It has officially been over one year since the COVID-19 virus ravaged the United States and the world. Life has certainly changed for many to heights we could not fathom pre-pandemic.
Now, attending large gatherings, like concerts and parties, watching a casual Friday night movie at the theater and taking a much-needed vacation has become a thing of the past. Someone coughing or sneezing in the grocery store or standing next to you is too close for comfort and has sparked mass paranoia in us all.
And, rightfully so, we must take the necessary precautions to stay safe and virus free.
Since our everyday human activities have halted, it is more difficult to find substantial alternatives to keep us active and entertained for the time being. Because of this, spending time browsing through social media has undoubtedly increased since the start of this pandemic.
Websites like Facebook and YouTube witnessed a 27 percent and 15.3 percent increase in their daily traffic, with averages of 160 million and 20 million accounts respectively, utilizing and engaging with their sites. Apps like TikTok and Twitch also experienced a growth in numbers. TikTok has an estimated 19 million users per day, a 15.4 percent raise, and Twitch has approximately six million everyday users and a whopping 19.7 percent climb.
With that being said, social media and online use, in general, have consumed larger portions of our lives.
Even though being on our phones seems like the most straightforward and safest resort to shield us from the outside world, it can cause more harm than good. I know that seems like such an obvious statement to make. However, if you think about it, the pandemic has just made this topic more complicated at a time where we are more isolated than ever before.
Scrolling through our Instagram, Facebook or TikTok feeds for minutes, and sometimes hours, on end and coming across content can trigger us more than it would pre-COVID. A prime example is witnessing our favorite influencers and celebrities or even (mutual) friends appearing to live their lives without a care in the world.
Meanwhile, a lot of us are held up in our homes, racking our brains about making life more interesting for the time being until the state of the world improves. (And probably hanging out with a friend or two only occasionally and getting essential Vitamin D three out of seven days a week!)
This can also spark mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression and other tumultuous, frustrating emotions. The reason being that social media already influences us to compare ourselves to others, significantly more so if you or your family has been severely affected by the raging virus, such as losing a job or a family member to coronavirus.
Then, we may start to question ourselves and formulate a "life isn't fair" mentality.
We may also feel mounting stressors regarding those who we deem to be not abiding by CDC guidelines. Social media can be a blessing and a curse because it helps us stay connected during trying times. However, it can also make us think and feel negatively.
Too much of a good thing is never a good thing, just like eating candy. Sweet and enjoyable at the beginning, then transforming to something that is sickness-inducing as time progresses.
I'm not persuading you to cut back on social media consumption or eliminate it entirely, but if you do, it may just be the right decision for you! It is essential to engage with anything in life in moderation, even social media.