There's Another Global Pandemic: Chronic Social Media Usage
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Student Life

There's Another Global Pandemic: Chronic Social Media Usage

Add another drug to the opioid epidemic: the device in our pocket.

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You're maybe looking at this article from some social media site, and that, my friends, is the irony of this very post.

I came of age with social media. When MySpace was on life support and Facebook took its place, I was there. When Twitter was a little site just for a handful of celebrities and the "Fail Whale" was a common site, I was there too. And when Instagram launched as a place to post grainy photos in sepia-tone, I was there for that too.

All of my social media accounts are at least a decade old. I've watched social media sites evolve before my eyes, even those that met their demise over the years.

And as those years went on, I became your stereotypical Gen Z-er. I was obsessed with likes. I constantly nuked my social media feeds to fit the certain visual aesthetics. I kept inventory of who said what on this site and who unfollowed me on that one.

Needless to say, this took an extreme toll on my mental health, both implicitly and explicitly. I knew that chronic social media usage was an extremely toxic behavior. It became a bad coping mechanism whenever I felt angry or anxious about something. I would always constantly scroll through my news feed to numb the pain, and deliberate what language would best provoke whoever I was subtweeting.

Now, I've written about chronic social media usage on here before. I'm only writing again because I just watched the new Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma," which features some of my favorite experts on social media ethics like Tristan Harris and Jaron Lanier.

In the film, not only do they unpack how social media becomes addictive and toxic, but how social media companies use a business model that lures users into clicking onto things that pique their interest. This has ultimately turned social media into a firestorm of toxicity and misinformation that it is today.

I'd be lying if I said I no longer engage in these toxic behaviors now and then. But my chronic social media usage in the past has led me to seek professional help this year, which helped me identify social media as the root cause of the severe anxiety that I had.

The reality is that I'm not alone. Social media is a double-edged sword. It has brought about many good forces in the world. It's created long overdue dialogues on race. It's created friendships that transcend borders. It's helped create a new professional environment in so many workforces.

But it also has brought bad ones. Not only has it brought about an onslaught of misinformation, it has become a powerful tool that has led us all to question our relationships, divide us based on superficial numbers and, to be quite frank, created a culture that is detrimental to our mental health.

The old adage that baby boomers like to throw around is that kids these days don't know how to put their phones down. I dislike "boomerisms" like that, but given my experience with social media, I think there's some truth to that. I'm not saying that we should all go off the grid. What I'm saying is that social media is like fast food: it's not bad to have it every now and then, but if you consume it constantly, it's going to negatively impact your health.

So please, take some time to unplug and do something that doesn't involve social media every now and then . Otherwise, we're potentially setting ourselves up to self-destruct with every scroll we take.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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