Don’t get me wrong, I think social media is a massive medium for communication and I support it 100 percent. However, I think the excessive use of social media can be quite harmful, especially for young adults and teenagers.

I honestly don’t even remember when I started using social media—I just know that I was extremely young. I’m pretty sure I jumped on the Myspace train when I was in sixth grade at the very least. That’s when stressing over things as shallow as “Top Friends” and “PC4PC” began. Silly, isn’t it? At 12 years old, I was already worried about online acceptance and my self-worth was based on the way people saw me through my Myspace profile.

It just got worse from there. Once the Myspace craze started to die down, Facebook made its way into all of our lives. I was constantly obsessed with posting statuses and approving as many friend requests as possible to seem well-known and well-liked. At such a vulnerable time in a teenage girl and boy’s life, social media’s incredibly strong influence can be pretty toxic. It becomes a gateway to an obsession and has seemed like a drug to me for so long.

All throughout high school, I was an avid “Tweeter” and “Instagramer.” I must have checked my Twitter feed at least 100 times a day, and whenever I posted a picture, I would refresh my Instagram feed until I was satisfied with how many “likes” I got in relevance to when I posted the photo. This was definitely something that lasted up until recently.

Mind you, I still use all of my social media accounts daily. Minus Myspace, of course, because that one totally fell off the face of the Earth. But, I’ve noticed that I use my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter way less than I did a year ago. It’s rare that I avidly check my Twitter feed, and I’ve stopped posted Instagram pictures every day. Yes, I still go for the occasional selfie or express my thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, but I have seemed to let go of any and all stress that came along with it. I think spending less time on these platforms has enabled me to appreciate their sole purpose: to simply stay connected with friends and family.

It’s almost like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Without worrying constantly about my social media profiles and that of others’, I’m much happier and less worrisome. I am more focused on my schoolwork and taken more time to write and do the things I love to do. I’ve been living in the present, and I am away more content person because of this. It’s easier to appreciate our friends and family in real time when we are less focused on their online profiles.

Social media truly is such a strong communication medium and has created thousands of jobs and opportunities for people around the world. I’m not speaking ill of social media and completely believe in its power to unite the world in such a quick and easy way. However, I do want to spread the word that our online profiles mean so much less the ones we present in real life. Real connections and real communication are so much more satisfying on a personal level. Social media and the channels it provides are extremely important but even more so are the relationships we create in person through physical communication. The virtual world can be manipulated but the real world is raw. I’ve learned to enjoy the unedited version of my life more than the one I can create on a screen.