Samreen: I won’t let social media distract me anymore

"We don’t talk enough about how technology was made to make our lives easier, yet somehow, we are becoming a product of it. We are somehow letting it control us, we can’t live without it." - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennesson

Recently, I made the decision to give up social media. There are many reasons, but ultimately, my philosophy of life has changed ever since I learned the deeper meaning of technology. I’m not going to tell you to give it up as well, everyone has a different relationship with social media. But somewhere deep down, we all know it’s toxic. 

For many of us, it does take a toll on our lives and our mental health. We don’t talk enough about how technology was made to make our lives easier, yet somehow, we are becoming a product of it. We are somehow letting it control us, we can’t live without it. It has been allowed to become a part of our body because we take it wherever we go and are quickly filled with anxiety if we’re away from it. I feel if something is giving you more harm than good then it is better to step away from it. That’s what I did.

No one is a social media addict at first, you become one over time when you realize your screen time is more than four hours or the feeling of F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) without it. Just like everyone, I simply used it for leisure and to keep up with celebrities and current news. At first, it would be a couple of minutes to an hour, then it suddenly became more than four hours. I saw myself going on my phone wherever I was, even in class, just randomly opening up Instagram and scrolling on endless posts and reels.

I knew this was becoming a bad habit when it started affecting my productivity, so I decided I would only use it between one to two hours a day. Little did I know that it would be impossible for me, no matter how restrictive I was, because once you’re inside the endless rabbit hole of reels and YouTube recommendations, it’s hard to get yourself out.

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, they state, “These platforms are designed to trap viewers in a social media rabbit hole: They offer bite-sized content that makes it easy to quickly consume several videos or posts in a row, they often automatically suggest similar content, and many of them even automatically start playing similar videos, reducing the potential for interruptions. While presenting users with engaging content isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the accessibility of this media is exactly what makes it so hard for users to break free from the rabbit hole and get back to whatever they were working on.”

Social Media is designed to keep users entertained and engaged as long as possible, so being wary of the content we consume is so important. What triggered me the most was how much fake news and manipulation is spreading on social media. Most of us learn and get news from social media like Instagram, Facebook, and X, formerly known as Twitter. I’ve seen so many fake videos and news regarding celebrities and politics, so many people’s minds are manipulated by it. There are millions of people posting every second and the system hasn’t had success removing disinformation.

Ever since I stepped away from social media platforms, I have had days where I want to go back, maybe because of F.O.M.O. or boredom, but I remind myself that there really isn’t anything to gain, nor am I missing out on anything. According to Social Media Victims Law Center, they say that users who use social media have the same effect on their brains as recreational drugs, and also, the research from Michigan State states that things like snaps, shares, likes, and posts affect the brain chemistry of users in the same way as cocaine use. 

The only way I tackled and fought back the urge to use social media again was by keeping myself busy with work and hobbies. I would spend almost five hours mindlessly scrolling and I wouldn’t even know what I just watched and learned. I personally wasted a lot of time and pushed away things I really wanted to do, so after I deleted social media, I had so much time to try new things and get my homework done on time. 

Even if you don’t want to personally stay away from social media, my message would only be that you consciously use the time you spend on social media and fact-check what you read. Also, stepping away from it when it starts affecting your mental health. And the next time when you’re bored and catch yourself reaching out for your phone, why not try something new or stop procrastinating on your work before falling into a rabbit hole.

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