Editorial: Signing off social media

Before I even start, I am going to acknowledge the irony, knowing that this is going to be posted on Facebook eventually.

We now live in a time where everyone and their grandparents are on social media. It is an amazing tool to keep in touch with friends and meet new people, or is it? On average people in America spend over five hours every single day on social media, and this number has been going up year after year.

That is completely understandable because the goal of the creators of these platforms is to make them as addictive as possible.

I’m not saying they are evil, they are merely running a business, and the more time you spend on social media the more money they make. Social media addiction may not seem real but studies have shown that simple things such as receiving a like or a comment on something you posted create a dopamine rush.

If you still don’t agree, let me tell you why your smartphone is the new cigarette. You keep it in your pocket, you don’t leave the house without it and you panic when it runs out of battery. Every time you are bored, stressed or frustrated you take your phone out because it gives you a reward the same way cigarettes do.

Dopamine, in simple words, is the feel good chemical; it is the thing that motivates us to do things that make us feel good. It is what makes us feel excitement and drives us to seek out things such as food, sex and drugs. By posting on social media and getting likes, you get a dopamine rush and feel validated.

You get stuck in a dopamine loop where you are left seeking more likes and more followers with no end. One of my major issues with social media is the false sense of the world it presents to us.

Now, maybe you are bombarded with a bazillion photos of people having amazing lives, and that only makes you feel worse about your own situation. While we all know that what we see online does not really represent reality, it still definitely lowers our self-esteem.

This is a vicious cycle which leaves you with a stronger need for external validation; you don’t feel good enough about yourself if your post doesn’t get likes.

Not only is social media affecting your happiness and/or the way you perceive your life, it is also rewiring your brain in a way that has never been seen before. Have you ever felt your phone vibrate but then realized that it had not?

This is called ͞phantom vibration syndrome and it has been claimed that nine out of 10 people have experienced this sensation. We are so used to our phones that they have almost become a part of us.

While is it great that anyone can publish their thoughts and ideas online, the part where these people are able to influence kids who have grown up with social media is concerning.

If you still don’t agree, let me tell you why your smartphone is the new cigarette. You keep it in your pocket, you don’t leave the house without it and you panic when it runs out of battery. Every time you are bored, stressed or frustrated you take your phone out because it gives you a reward the same way cigarettes do.

That reward is a small dopamine rush which makes you feel good.

But step back and ask yourself, what are you really gaining by pouring hours of your day into social media. Is people’s validation that important to you?

Would you rather just not have a conversation with a friend than check your phone every minute?

If you feel like any what I’ve mentioned above is even remotely true for you, try to stop posting on social media for period you are comfortable with.

I have personally challenged myself to go an entire month without posting on social media and it has been liberating.

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