Is Technology and Social Media Ruling Your Life?
All too often we see people-young and old alike-glued to their phones. They can't look away: they're busy texting, posting selfies to Instagram, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, and updating their Snapchat story.
Are you one of these people?
- When you wake up does the first thing you do involve checking your phone? Instead of thinking about the day ahead, do you spend the first few minutes (or longer) of every day catching up on social media?
- Are you a distracted driver? Can you drive to the grocery store and back without checking your phone?
- If you lost your phone, would your day be ruined? Would you experience extreme anxiety knowing your phone wasn't in your back pocket or purse? In the event of an emergency, would you know any phone numbers?
Why is this unhealthy?
- When we first wake up, we should think about the dreams we had last night or the day ahead of us. It should be a peaceful time of day. However, many people skip the relaxation by checking their phones and social media first. This is important because by checking these apps we are skipping the calmness we should be experiencing each morning and replacing it with many times negative thoughts.
- Some people just catch up with what everybody else does on social media, but without realizing it we are constantly comparing ourselves and judging others based on these posts. Other people post everything about their lives looking for affirmation. We shouldn't be looking for affirmation about ourselves online, we should find it through our human interactions. Even though it is subconcious most of the time, we are adding more negativity than we realize to our lives by constantly looking at social media because we are always judging based on somebody's post whether that be judging us or them.
- People who post updates about their every waking moment leave nothing to the imagination. Why ask people how their day has been when you can tell by checking their status updates? Getting to know somebody new involves jumping on their social media pages because for many all the information is right there. It's not healthy to want everybody to know everything about your life. It is important to keep some things offline. Not everybody needs to know your every thought. By keeping things offline it provides you with the opportunity to connect with people in person often creating deeper and more meaningful relationships.
- Checking social media while driving isn't just unhealthy; it is dangerous! Every year there are thousands of car accidents due to distracted driving.
- In the event of an emergency it can be devastating if the necessary phone numbers are unavailable because they are stored in a phone. It is important to always have your emergency contact information written down or memorized should the worst happen.
Ways to avoid becoming unhealthy with your technology and social media habits:
- Don't check your phone when you're in bed. Wake up, get moving, start your day, enjoy your morning and then if you feel the itch, check your social media. This will be difficult at first but will get easier with time, I promise. I used to do this and it was a hard habit to break at first but has gotten so much easier. I typically don't check social media until mid-afternoon. This is also important at night, don't look at any screen 30 minutes before you plan on going to bed, although you may believe you are sleeping well your circadian rythym will prove otherwise and you will not be getting the same quality of sleep as you would be without looking at the screen prior to going to sleep.
- Keep some things to yourself. Don't post everything about yourself or what you're doing on social media. Leave things so that people can ask questions. Don't look for acceptance online; instead meet people, get to know them away from the computer. Human contact and social connections are a biological need. If this is something you haven't done in a while, it may feel uncomfortable but will get easier with time, and I believe you'll begin feeling better about yourself because of it.
- While driving, put your phone in the back seat. Especially if it's that much of a distraction to you. As uncomfortable as this could make you feel, hurting yourself or others will make you feel much worse. If you need to use GPS, try to use a source that is not your phone. I have found it much easier to be distracted by my phone if I use it as GPS.
- Write down your emergency contacts. If you can't memorize a few important phone numbers, at least keep them written in a place that is not your phone so that if you do happen to lose your phone, you still have them.
Technology is something we will use daily, for work and for pleasure. Take time each day to unplug, put your phone away and just be with yourself or others. This is a way to ensure we are taking time for ourselves to destress and relax and gives us the opportunity to create face-to-face interactions. Something as simple as a rule stating no phones at the dinner table is a good way to create conversation. Learn about people and let others learn about you face-to-face. I believe you'll gain much more self-confidence this way rather than behind a screen on social media.
All the benefits technology has brought us can come with a cost if we are not aware of how much time we spend with it and on social media.