Toxic: Social Media Pitfalls and Getting Out of Them

man on social media

Everybody is on social media nowadays. I’m not just talking about just young kids. Pew Research Center reported that almost three-quarters of parents are now on Facebook.

With everybody’s eyes on social media, sometimes, it is difficult to breathe. Yet, you can’t help it. You’re sucked into your device, and you can’t help but go through your news feed. It’s like an addiction.

Why is it so addictive?

A study made by Hardvard attempts to explain why. It says that social media provides humans with rewarding social stimuli. It means that through laughs, likes, hearts, and positive comments, dopamine is released. Dopamine is a chemical produced by the brain that is responsible for a person’s motivation.

This explains why every time a person hears a notification sound or sees an alert on his or her screen, excitement follows. It’s like anticipating a positive stimulus that ultimately affects a person’s motivation.

The problem is, not everything you will receive on social media are positive. Some may not agree with your post, dislike it, and, worst, shame you for it. This is when social media becomes toxic.

Going back to studies made by Harvard, a link has been found between smartphone use and anxiety, lack of sleep, and car injuries and death. These are serious issues; how did using smartphones get so out of hand?

Distracted driving

Currently, one of the major causes of car accidents is distracted driving. Distracted driving can happen when you talk to your peer or family while driving, and it can also happen when using your phone.

According to reports, one million car accidents happen every day because of smartphone use. Texting is one thing, but connecting your phone to the internet is another. If you have social media accounts in Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat, and you open your phone’s data connection, chances are you will hear multiple notification sound alerts. This leads to distracted driving.

It may be easy to say that it won’t, but believe me, it will. Remember what we discussed earlier? Social media is addictive, and once you hear alerts, signals are sent to your brain telling you to check it. You wouldn’t be able to control the impulse. Chances are you will take a glimpse, and in that few seconds of not looking on the road can cost you dearly. This is how accidents occur.

woman unable to sleep

Social media and anxiety

In social media, the keyword is social. People use it to connect with other people all around the world. With the internet, the possibility of multiple human interactions becomes limitless. Yet, talking to a person on the internet is way different from talking to a person face-to-face.

It has something to do with tone. In social media, miscommunication is common because it is hard to convey a tone. If you are talking through the comment section or a community platform, you are talking through texts. Sometimes, your message can be misread, and according to a study made by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this often leads to isolation.

A platform that intends to connect people becomes a tool that disconnects and divides people even more. Some also link social media as one of the leading causes of depression today because of the lack of genuine human interaction. Studies say that electronic communication is impersonal and less satisfying than face-to-face interaction.

In social media, many nonverbal cues are missing — a simple touch, the sound of a genuine laugh, or a soft tap on the back when you did something good. Real interactions give that.

This is how sometimes, even social media influencers with a huge number of followers still feel isolated. Unfortunately, severe feeling of isolation leads to depression.

Getting out of it

Since social media is indeed a big part of our lives, there seems to be no escaping it. Also, escaping may be a term that implies ignoring the problem and forgetting about it.  Yet, the first step in solving a problem is recognizing it; instead of escaping social media, learn to get out of the pitfalls.

For distracted driving, it’s simple — do not turn on your data while driving. Better yet, turn off your phone if you know you are not expecting any urgent calls. If you have someone traveling with you, trust them with your phone; ask them to let you know if there is an emergency call or text. If there is none, ask your companion not to distract you themselves.

To manage stress and anxiety, make sure to have a balanced social interaction. Interaction through social media is fine, but there is nothing like having a real conversation with a friend or a family member over coffee. Get out of your room, turn off your phone for a while, and enjoy the outdoors.

For some people that may be experiencing depression, do not ignore it. Again, recognizing that you need help is important. Some professionals give cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. Through their help and understanding of the people around you, you can battle anxiety and depression.

Social media is meant to be a way to connect with others and learn about updates regarding the situations around us. Don’t let its toxicity consume you; take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

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