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Is social media making us less social?

on Tuesday, 26 March 2019. Posted in Columns, Opinions

By: William M. Mingus, III

When you wake up in the morning what is the first thing you do? Hit snooze? Start a pot of coffee? Or do you grab your phone, and check social media? If the latter was your response, don’t feel bad you are not alone.

The use of social media apps like Facebook, Snap Chat, Twitter, and Instagram have become somewhat of a cornerstone of modern communication and connection, as it allows users to create a sense of belonging and redefine their way of life. We must look at the place that social media and social networking play in our everyday lives. From a mental health perspective, concerns have been rising about the negative impact of excessive use of social media on the health and wellbeing of users, especially young people.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, said, “more than 175 million people use Facebook. If it were a country, it would be the sixth most populated country in the world”. That fact is staggering.

This is a major topic of discussion in the mental health community because of the impact that modern technologies have on our lives. How can we take a step back and release the grip that social media has on our lives? I am not saying delete your accounts but here are six suggestions on how to limit your screen time.

•Be selective in your responses. If a friend is overloading your feed with posts, don’t feel the need to respond to all of them, or any of them for that matter.

•Stop stressing about FOMO (the fear of missing out). Checking the social media apps frequently is not going to keep you in the loop, there will always be things you will miss no matter how frequently you check.

•Don’t let it distract you. Social media can reduce attention, productivity, and effectiveness in your daily lives, turn the notifications off or don’t let them be a disruptive force in your life.

•Don’t be fooled. I’ve touched on this one once before but don’t take everything you see as the truth. In an age of ‘fake news’ we need to understand that not only news can be fake. Don’t be envious of your friends’ posts, sometimes there are stories behind the scenes that social media can hide.

•Set limits. Sometimes we not only need a physical break, but also a mental break as well, so limiting your time on social media will replenish your energy and can make you more attentive.

•Remember reality. Seek ways to interact with your friends in a face to face setting, instead of a FaceTime setting. When you share this interaction with your friends you will feel the need to share the important things in your life. This will also help build something that is lacking in society, human empathy.

Real life situations will make your friendships and relationships stronger. So, get out of the house and go hang out with your friends and family, but make sure you leave your phones in your pocket.

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