For the longest time I have pondered writing a convincing article about how we should reduce our phone usage mainly due to all of the negative effects they have on us; however, writing a persuasive article of this fashion without being hypocritical is nearly an impossible task for a guy like me because, just like everyone in this world, I do use my phone… a lot.
After giving a little more thought to my dilemma with phones, I found out that it is not the usage of the device itself that is affecting us, or at least that I have a problem with, but rather the use we give it.
During a long discussion, a friend of mine mentioned me that technically we could use our phones for long periods to read articles like this one, to listen to music or to even do research without being affected in any way, shape or form; and I completely agree with that.
But what happens when people use their phone for a long period of time to look at social media? The answer to this question can vary depending on a person's mood, personality, characteristics, and self-esteem.
One thing I do know for sure though, is that when people start using their phone for social media, rather than for its main function (communication), without even realizing it, they slowly become more and more dependent on the device itself, which can lead to all kinds of trouble.
Social media may seem harmless at first, but just like any bad habit you may regret having, it can grow into something bigger and uglier. Due to how addictive social media is designed to be, abusing it can literally make it hard for you to leave your phone alone while studying, working, before going to sleep or while being on a social gathering. If you have this problem, you possibly have noticed that your productivity levels are lower than normal and that you may even get less sleep at night.
But do not worry, I am not out here trying to convince you of getting a flip phone and deleting all your social media, however, what I will try to make you do is open your eyes and make you realize how "disconnected" you are with the real world by staring at your phone/social media a little too much. You have probably heard this a thousand times "looking at your phone too much is bad" but really, have you actually thought of, or considered how using your phone for social media is affecting the way you act/think? I mean, when you look at social media, you may think, "I use it as a form of entertainment, or as a means of keeping in touch with others" but is that really it though? People like you and me use it to check up on other people's statuses, photos, videos and interactions with others. And let's be honest, from time to time we "stalk" others as well. This is not necessarily bad in its entirety, but if we are not careful, we can gradually pick up really harmful habits such as, comparing ourselves to others, worrying too much about how many likes our pictures will get, how many followers we have, and how "cool" our captions or statuses are.
Both, the accumulation of these behaviors and the excess exposure to social media, can ignite a sense of insecurity that makes people overly worried about their portrayal to others. And let's be honest here, if you have Instagram, Facebook or anything of that sort, you can kind of see this pattern. More often than not, you'll see random people, friends or even yourself posting things at an exponentially increasing rate while also adding a lot of filters or maybe even using photoshop so your pics look better or "cuter". Consequently, all these behaviors can lead people to constantly seek approval from others, which in turn makes them act accordingly by doing some of the things that I have already mentioned like uploading a picture, or posting something that appears to be "cool" more frequently.
When it all piles up, excess use of social media can give birth to a dangerous psychological cycle that can make you addicted to your phone and in some cases, more vulnerable to low self-esteem, which can lead to depression. Just so you can picture more clearly what I am talking about, if you can, go watch the episode "Nosedive" of the show Black Mirror. Even though it is an extreme example of what I am talking about, this episode shows very clearly the behavioral patterns I have mentioned. In case you wanted a more realistic statistic according to BBC, "In 2016, a study of 1,787 people aged between 19 and 32 in the US found a relationship between how long people spent on social media sites each day and the number of depressive symptoms they experience. The more usage, the more hopeless, worthless, and helpless they felt."
And again, I did not use these examples with the intent of getting you to quit using social media or anything of that sort, but after having read this, take time to self-evaluate and see if you need a bit of moderation when it comes to phone usage. Maybe you are using your phone a little too much and missing out on some stuff because of it, maybe you are too concerned over your portrayal to others, or maybe it is starting to become kinda hard to leave your phone alone in certain situations.
If you feel like this might be you, go hang out with friends, read something, go to the movies, do some homework or simply do something to get you busy and away from looking at your phone for a while.
I promise you will be surprised by how much value you will add to your time if you sacrifice a little of "social-media-ing" in order to do something more productive.