- You’re not happy with your own life anymore
- Real friendships versus virtual friendships
- You scroll more, work less
- Social media is addictive, seriously addictive
- Private lives don’t remain private anymore
- Tips to remain safe online
Do you find yourself checking your Facebook wall as soon you sit up in bed, and is it the last thing you do before you shut your eyes? Well, you’re not the only one out there –most of us are guilty of staying up, straining our eyes for hours and hours, because we just can’t stop stalking that cute guy on Facebook. Apart from that sounding extremely creepy, your constant presence on social media platforms can do a lot more harm to your mind than you think. Here’s how the insanely popular and tempting paradise called social media can actually wreck your mind on the earth:
You’re not happy with your own life anymore
Problem – It’s a Saturday night, and you’re at home doing your homework, or writing a poem or just gazing at the stars. You suddenly check your social media wall and see that almost everyone from your class or workplace is at a cool party, or two of your friends have gone double-dating. Simple as it may sound, it can dampen your spirits seriously, and you begin cursing your lonely life. You then delete your social media application to keep yourself away from the social world.
You may end up falling into the ‘social media reversion’, trap getting off social media only to fail in your resolution. It’s not your fault really, for social content creators are slogging as we speak to make these social networking websites sinfully attractive. This is hugely related to FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out – on something important on social media. Most common among teenagers, a break from social media is compared to losing a limb, as they “miss out” on important information and connection to their friends. Not surprisingly, teenagers suffering from FOMO also suffer from intense depression and anxiety.
Solution – What you forget in this situation is that posting mushy romantic quotes or selfies on every trip doesn’t really guarantee a long-lasting friendship or a fulfilling relationship. Similarly, just because you’re not posting amazing pictures over the weekend, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a life – you have your family, friends and (possibly) a romantic partner to love you better than some fake people on the internet. The American Psychiatric Association has categorized posting selfies on social media as a mental disorder to make up for all the lack of self-worth.
Real friendships versus virtual friendships
Problem – You have over thousand friends or followers on your social media, but you don’t talk to any of them. You slowly fail to distinguish between offline, real-time friendships and online friendships that have dissolved long ago. If you decide to focus on the more unimportant people just because they’re in your friend list, you will start losing the people who are much closer and more meaningful to you. Small talk on a chat tab doesn’t last long.
Solution – It really makes no sense adding more than fifty people on your list, because twenty-five of them don’t remember you anyway. If you keep adding random people just because you had talked to them once at school, you will forget the more special relationships in your life that you simply can’t do without.
You scroll more, work less
Problem – Social networking websites are one of the most common ways for employees to find, communicate with and keep in touch with their clients. They can become a big source of distraction to employees who check up on their friends’ activities instead of performing their assigned tasks. Though there is technology available to block social networking sites when at work, they are not always successful.
To be honest, social media users don’t always know what they’re looking for on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page. Most often, people scroll out of boredom. According to a study made by Retrovo –
- About 48% people check their social media as soon as they wake up.
- About 56% people check their Facebook wall at least once a day.
- About 12% people are compelled to check their Facebook wall every couple of hours.
- About 40% people weren’t disturbed by constant messages, 32% people would check their mail at mealtimes, and 7% people checked for messages when with their partner.
These statistics are worrying, because most of us have joined the virtual world in favour of the physical one.
Solution – Reach out to clients through emails instead. This automatically reduces your chance to sign in to your social media account and browse through newsfeed that you can always catch up on later. Schedule a “social media” break for yourself and maintain that religiously. It is also a good idea to uninstall your social media applications so that you’re less tempted to check your social media every few seconds, and ensure that you’re accomplishing your daily goals.
Social media is addictive, seriously addictive
Problem – We are always fiddling with our phones when we’re bored, even though we have no real use for it. Often, those who are always present on a social media platform become victims of personal neglect, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood-modifying experiences and unnecessary socialisation through comments and chats. Excessive use of social networking websites can actually push you into boredom and self-isolation because you’re not doing anything much other than checking your newsfeed, which decreases your productivity level.
You can’t disregard social media addiction as a just-checking-my-wall fad, because Internet Addiction Disorder actually exists. As per a 2012 study done by the National Institutes of Health, this leads to psychiatric, social and neurological issues – poor social life, withdrawal and compulsive use of the internet are some of the major symptoms.
Solution – Check your newsfeed once in a while, and find a better job to do. When you’re at work or studying, turn off your internet connection and concentrate on your work. If you need the internet, ignore the messages that keep popping up. You can get back to your friends later during your break. Engage yourself in a fruitful hobby, or learn something new – instead of filling up your mind with what everyone else is doing in life. Moreover, the lesser social media accounts you have signed up for, the happier you would be.
Problem – People often become victims of cyber-bullying. They are picked on and mocked publicly for their physical appearance, culture or anything else that is other than the convention. There are also a number of predators online, who mask their appearance and can be dangerous.
The Blue Whale game, where participants are given a set of 50 creepy tasks to complete, share photographs of the same, and finally commit suicide, is a case of social media going too far. This horrifying trend became an epidemic in the world in 2017.
Solution – Know that whatever you post on the internet remains permanent, even if you delete it later on. Refrain from using your personal photographs as your display picture. Remember that what can be an incident of cyber-bullying to you can be a great source of online entertainment to other people on your list. Simply report or hide negative content that you think is not worth thinking twice about.
If you’re a parent, with your teenager on social media –
- Keep a check on their online activities
- Talk to them about mental health awareness, suicides, cyber-bullying and the dangers of the internet
- Identify if your teenager is potentially vulnerable to self-harm
- Report any suspicious activity to the authorities
Private lives don’t remain private anymore
Problem – Most people are ever-ready to post their intimate details online, ignoring the consequences. Though there are filters one can use to control who’s viewing what, it’s better to keep your timeline clean. For this reason, 75% of parents allow their children to have their own social media account only after they reach their teenage years. Even then, parents often restrict internet use and keep a lookout for their potential dates.
Solution – Avoid posting personal photographs on your wall as much as you can, and learn to keep things to yourself. The world doesn’t want to see your new shoes, what you’re eating and where you are at the moment. Not only does this pose a certain threat to your personal security (you never know who has what intentions), it can reflect poorly on your image if your potential employer stumbles on a video of you sloshed out, while doing a background check. If you’re a parent, have a heart-to-heart conversation about –
- what to be revealed and what to be kept private
- securing the highest possible privacy settings on their profiles
- not accepting requests from strangers
- refraining from sharing personal information
- sharing photographs of any kind
- keeping oneself online to make them technologically aware
Tips to remain safe online
Social media and data security threats go hand-in-hand. Hacking, stolen identity and other forms of online harassment can have serious consequences. It is important to treat your social media accounts as top security material, as anything embarrassing or harmful that you/the hacker posts can irreparably damage your reputation.
This one rule cannot be emphasized enough, yet people don’t often take this seriously. Create extra-long and extra-strong passwords using meaningless sentences with numbers, special characters and alphabets.
- Don’t use the same password for every account, and use two-factor authentication. The two-factor authentication involves logging into an account, the social media website will send a unique number to the mobile number registered with the account.
- Regularly change your passwords, and don’t recycle passwords either.
Install antivirus software
- Install antivirus software on your computers and mobile device against malware, virus and other online dangers. Back up your storage regularly to avoid loss of property.
- Update your mobile apps regularly, so that the security patches protect your device from the latest threats.
Mind whom you befriend online
Never, ever accept friend requests from total strangers, or people whom you hardly know. You never know who’s hiding behind a fake profile.
Manage account security preferences
Learn about the account security settings on every social media platform you use, and customize them, to manage who sees what you post on your wall.
Look before your post
Customize your privacy settings to see who sees what you post, and be careful of what you post. Personal photographs should be strictly no-no, as they can be misused for various purposes. Avoid using your own picture as a display picture, as they are generally for public view and can be easily morphed into offensive images.
Don’t get me wrong, social media can be an interesting place. Just use what you use in real life – your brain, gut feeling and conscience. The virtual world is much scarier because everything you like, share, comment or post can work well or disastrous for your offline reputation – and you really want to keep that one spotless.