10 Ways Social Media Can be Harmful

Let’s put out the facts here first that just like the gun, in the wrong hands with the wrong motives, the gun would be a deadly weapon. We’re more than grateful that most countries today make it absolutely difficult or almost impossible to get a license to own one. Having said that, just like the gun, the successful use of social media is very dependant of the user making the right decisions. And their intentions have to be clear and on par with the basis of their principles and moral standing (if they have one).

image: Christopher Ott

The thing you need to know is that the internet and all the glories of its beautiful platforms (social media) have been a catalyst to driving human diversity, global connectivity, thoughtful creativity and positive developments in human interaction and social evolution.

Social media is social networking at its optimum level of speed and efficiency. But with “Great power comes great responsibility.” so they say (or Peter Parker’s Uncle ~ Ben says) . The abuse of social media will inevitably spiral us down the rabbit hole into our inner monsters.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s 10 ways Social Media can be harmful to you.

1.You Lose Your Sense Of Social Etiquette

Too many times I witness how rude people are when they’re in the presence of company. Especially when presenting yourself to the host. You should be giving your utmost attention, if not at least 70%. You run the risk of giving people the impression that you’re superficial (and they’re shaking their heads by the way).

image: Zach reiner

Now this has nothing to do about proving what type of person you are to other people. Your inability to socialise will make people think if it’s even worth inviting you for the next one since all you’ll be doing is ignoring people at the table. This might jeopardize future connections and social sustenance too.

To prevent this misperception of your better self, you must be fully present so that your interactions are seen as more sincere. Communicating well with others means you are an all rounded nice person to have around during a social gathering and people would love to create deeper relationships with you or even better, open up opportunities to network with you in future.

2.You Develop an Unhealthy Addiction and Thirst for Validation

image: Ryan Snadt

Are you the sort that watches your LIKES go up and down like the stock market?

I remember when Facebook first came about and all of us, in our 20’s, rushing to express ourselves online and let the whole World know how we felt that day. How angry or sad or disappointed and mad we are with our life, our family and friends and things that went on at work.

The era of journaling in books and owning private thoughts are going into the long winter’s sleep and eventually most of it will die into the system. We now crave attention and validation from others. We yearn for support and voices of reason. We want to be heard. Now, we have an outlet to rage and rant and also an avenue of social support via online friends.

This validation from the public of what we’re going through makes us feel like we’re “right” and that there are others who support our beliefs. Watching the LIKES pile on and positive comments about what we posted creates this dopamine rush to our brain. A chemical that makes us feel pleasure and happiness. You know that tingly feeling you get when you’re in love? That feel-good juice running through your veins is dangerously addictive if you don’t keep yourself in check.

By all means, soak in all the goodness of dopamine cos we’re not here to say stop accepting compliments and posting positive things online. Please carry on. This is just to create awareness in you, to be more careful not to border line into becoming a social media addict for LIKES, that’s all.

3.You Make Negative Comparisons and Demolish Your Self Worth

Do it for the “Gram”.

image: Joshua Rawson-Harris

Instagram has accelerated its growth and morphed into this giant bowl of all things yummy. Food for the eyes, excellent for exposure, great for business, good for chatting, for sharing news, entertainment and much more. It has really found a good place to park in the busy market of social media platforms. Definitively, the ability to tweak and beautify pictures before posting is a great issue to what’s authentic and what’s not in the real World.

Though Instagram has provided a creative outlet for it’s users, its negative effects is now crawling its way into the lives of those who have low self esteem, people with personality issues, and those who face social dilemmas and even affecting the regular joe due to peer pressure.

A study by the American Psychological Association observes that people who are exposed to high upward social comparisons on social media versus people who are not, have developed lower self esteem traits.

We can’t help but compare our lives with others, it has become ingrained in this wedge of our existence since the 1950’s. This need to compare ourselves started with the good old fashion magazine, movies and television. Brainwashing us into thinking that this is what beauty looks like and what we should aspire to become. It even influences the items we should own, through the marketing psychology of buyer’s behaviors, social media marketing exploded its earnings into the 21st century.

Due to all this brainwashing, an alarming rate of pre-teens and young individuals who are affected by self esteem issues has led to suicide and chronic depression.

A survey study by the National University of Singapore shows that, people are biologically inclined to make social comparisons of their skills, personal situation and overall identity . This allows them to make evaluations of themselves based on the information they receive of the lives and situations of others, which are actually unrealistic to their own reality.

So don’t get pulled into the game of the “Gram”, at least not for the negative aspects of it. Your life is yours to write, to narrate, to run. You’re the author of the chapters in your book of life. So make it a good one. And if you’re too busy to post anything or if you’re a private person then don’t be the scroll monster, trolling on other people’s feed just to watch other people’s lives go by. Be busy with non social media activities or get a tv 🤪 if you can’t help it .

For all you know, 50% of them are faking it online. Your self-worth is valued by you ~ yourself not by what others do in their lives. A picture speaks a thousands words they say but in this time and age, I don’t buy all of it. I prefer living a real and imperfect life. Perfect’s too boring, don’t you think? Just be busy having fun with yours and switch off that notification tab in your phone.

4.It Robs You of Your Time

Scroll, scroll, scroll and scroll. This act itself is quite addictive. Looking through your feed like a vampire thirsting for blood content. Even 5 minute videos can’t catch your attention anymore. It’s all memes, short 30s Tik Tok videos and paid advertisements for Entrepreneurships or Social media marketing.

image: Shane

This happens to me quite a lot actually. From experience, it’s scary how watching clip after clip of 1 minute cooking videos can lead to hours and hours of getting stuck in bed or glued to the couch. I end up wasting my entire day of not doing anything productive. Zoink.

I have had to segregate my time to which parts of the day I should check my phone and be socially involved online. The rest of the day is for me to get sh*t done.

Don’t scroll your life away……

5.You Evolve into a Nyctophile ( night lover )

What’s the difference between a “night owl” and a nyctophile ?

Unlike creatures of the night who are biologically born into this World to live nocturnally in its natural habitat, it is not in our human biological makeup to stay awake and operate in the night. We actually need the darkness of the night to replenish vital hormones that allow us to function properly. So our brain can release toxic waste and renew cells that we require during wake state.

Lack of sleep leads to the weakening of your immune system, lower sex drive, weight gain and optimum function of your brain ( an equivalent to a system lag I guess ). Just like how it robs you of your time, scrolling through content through the middle of the night, fortuitously transforms you into this nyctophile, and that’s not a good thing for your health.

6.You Spend a Ridiculous Amount of Money Unnecessarily

I’m guilty of this frankly. Like, who isn’t? I mean we can blame social media marketing all we want but the companies didn’t put your finger on the CheckOut button, now did they? It is the fault of your own free will unfortunately.

HAha. It’s hard to restrain ourselves when the advertisements are so targeted to the algorithm of our social media consumption. So best thing to do is limit your expenses on unnecessary things that you don’t actually need. Save the ad or follow the brand name so you can get back to it later if you’re still yearning for it after a month. If you didn’t think about it after 30 days, most probably it’s not something you critically needed.

7.You Pick Up a Social Disease called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Ok so FOMO even though not a clinically diagnosed mental illness yet, it is making its way up the line of new found conditions that our generation of humans are facing. FOMO has become a very real and concerning phenomenon says Elizabeth Scott of Verywellmind.com (medically reviewed by Dr Steven Gans).

So FOMO is basically you feeling left out of the loop of all things cool, lavish and trending by watching the lives of your peers and other people on social media. Just like the negative comparison above, you also develop low self esteem with this.

In the case of FOMO, you add up your condition by one more level to jealousy. The effects of this material and lifestyle envy can cause unrealistic expectations. And some may even go into debt just cause they want to own the things that people are now owning and experience the life that “influencers” or their own group of friends are experiencing. There is no logical decision making process here.

You get sucked into either the ” I need to get that now so I can show that I’m in the cool” crowd or ” I’m not cool enough and not in the know of what’s happening and hip ” crowd.

And the thing is, it doesn’t help people with envy issues that you as a friend highlight this so-called lack (which is not even a lack actually). It doesn’t matter what you don’t have, what matters more is what you actually have. Why must there be a template of how-to-have-a great-life or what a cool lifestyle looks like? Why follow the herd when you can make things happen on your own by your own rules?

8.You Can’t Differentiate What’s Real

image: Pawel Szmanski

Hey, we all use filters right and some people use it so extremely that they lose all remnants of what they actually look like. Ok so filters are like digital makeup. We all want to look good and feel good when we’re looking at ourselves, like why not. This is the beauty of technology. We can photoshop how we look, like in magazines and it’s at our fingertips!

Look, there’s nothing wrong with using filters, it’s only when it’s gone overboard for yourself and from what you perceive as real.

The line is drawn though when we tweak how we look like beyond what people remember us to look like. I know I know, you want your boyfriend’s ex girlfriend to see how slim and well groomed you are. And you want to show off how the nerd and skinny dude from school is now a super toned and chiseled piece of hot property, like those Korean Pop Stars. But this will only lead to bigger character problems like mess with your confidence level and self expectations.

The effects are these.

+ You shy away from cameras that doesn’t use filters, hence you don’t want to be in photos

+ You refuse to have your photo taken unless they use your phone (cos your phone has apps that uses filters, duh)

+ You lose all confidence in yourself cos you don’t feel camera worthy (cos you compare yourself to your other friends who you think are Instagram ready)

+ You hate what you see in the mirror cos it’s not filtered and you think you’re ugly ( don’t even ~ cos what you think you see and how others see you are totally different views)

+ You start wanting to get actual surgery done in order to have an always “filtered look” (like a walking Barbie or Ken doll)

+ You think that your friends who look cute, cut and beautiful really look like that in person (that’s a funny one)

The issue of things not being real doesn’t only lie in the human outlook. It’s also the filters that we use on all the photos we take. Take it as advertising. We are all advertising something or someone or ourselves in a way right? Just know where to cut the boundaries of too much. At least for landscapes and pictures of your culinary experience, we can still differentiate it cos we’re all just appreciating the art of that stunning building you just took a picture of. It’s the human tweaking that can lead to too much sometimes.

So lower your expectation of how that destination may look like on screen compared to real life. Or how an unagi bowl looks like on a tasty new menu compared to when it’s actually served in the restaurant. And how that influencer really looks like on Instagram compared to when you saw them on the street or in a shopping mall. Those Mummy Influencers don’t always dress up when they’re playing with their kids at home unless maybe they’re a Mariah type and that’s ok, it’s only normal. Lowering your expectations of what you see on social media (like perfect marriages and #couplegoals) will ease your mind and reduce stress levels of living up to it or keeping up with the Joneses.

Stay calm , no one’s perfect. You don’t want to live someone else’s life, trust me. You don’t even know the half of it.

9.You Expose Yourself to Online Bullying And Negativity

We can’t control how other people perceive our happiness and our self expression. Your siblings, family, friends and even random strangers are going to form their own negative perception and opinion of whatever you post, no matter what. Whether you’re speaking up or proving a point, people are people and they love to get into your business.

Whether they feel indirectly offended by you or affected by what you posted, they will comment on it on your feed, they will viral it (if its saucy) and they will DM (direct message) you about it.

Being on social media and active I must add (not scroll monsters), exposes you to many opportunities for cyber bullying. I have one friend that has closed her comments section so she doesn’t have to deal with all this noise.

How you can manage it is this, if you have to rant out your frustration, do it on your Instagram stories or Facebook posts but select the limited people (who you trust) who can actually see these posts from you. This is a good way to filter out the negativity.

I did that for my own self because some people just don’t know how to use their time more efficiently. And they’re not excellent communicators like yourselves. So we can’t expect the best from them.

10.You Develop Anxiety and Depression

image: Anthony Tran

Recently, I’ve been doing so much social media work that I developed some form of anxiety. This fast-paced always changing digital environment is definitely overwhelming. I have had to manage a few things that’s social media related and it’s taking a toll on my memory and sleep too cos my brain couldn’t stop working when I’m trying to get some quality sleep. The anxiety I face is targeted towards keeping up with datelines on some social media work that I’m doing at the moment and I’m super busy with collabs and projects. I felt that my heart is pumping so hard and I have difficulty breathing. This was the signs I got for my body and mind to rest and take a break from all the Socmed (social media) noise.

I have had to do breathing exercises and meditation to keep my heart from pumping at super speeds. I also took a social media detox by not doing anything to do online and kept my phone at a safe distance.

Depression on the other hand can sprout from the many effects of social media as laid out above. You have to find out the triggers to your conditions. Once you understand yourself this way, you can always manage yourself so much better.

Unless you are the sort that shys away from social media altogether, this is one less thing to worry about. And if you are active on the social train, like most of us, just be mindful to not let it get out of control, change you for the worse, encourage conflicts or bring you any negativity. Maintain that online shopping to a good amount and don’t go overboard haha.
Give your full attention when out with people, look up when crossing the road (not look at your phone), don’t spread hate, be true to yourself and understand self -worth ( you are uniquely you) and don’t be the scroll monster.. Grrrarrrr…

image: Nordwood Themes

At the end of the day, we all want a positive and safe space to express freely. So enjoy your social journey and take good care of what you project and invite into your digital space.

That’s it from me. If you’d like to read inspirational quotes, get motivated or share your thoughts and ideas, do head down to our instagram account @simplelifedaily and do check out our online store @thesimplelife.store ! Join our Telegram Channel too 🙂

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