Why Social Media is Killing Your Soul - And How To Stop It!

Social media is everywhere. You can’t get away from it. It’s in your pocket. It’s in front of you in class. It’s even a requirement for work. In fact, you’re legitimately addicted to it. But you don’t really notice how bad the addiction is, because everyone is addicted to it. If everyone’s doing it, it can’t be that bad, right? I was beginning to realize that maybe this isn’t the case. 

I started noticing negative effects of being constantly connected for a long time, but I never really knew what to do about it. I felt isolated and alone. It was like people were only talking at me and not with me. There is a loss of sincere dialogue about life itself.

As if our self-compromising comparisons to friends weren't enough, there’s also the sharing of news on social media. Each headline left me feeling more hopeless than the last. Whether it was about Trump, the environment, or the sad fact that I may have to compete against a brainless algorithm for a future job; I felt like I was living in the middle of the blitzkrieg—but the flashes of lightning were pictures, and the exploding bombs were news and status updates. 

So what did Londoner’s do to defend themselves during the blitz? 

Blackout. 

They pulled every curtain, and shut off every light. In effect, they shut out the world.

For me, I would “blackout” my social media. I did this by doing the unheard of: leaving my phone at home. 

I had anxiety leaving my house without social media. I would no longer be able to text, or open an app when the first signs of boredom struck. Lots of what if questions went through my mind, like, what if I need to know the time? What if I need to check when the next bus comes? What if I need to text someone? What if I’m bored and need to entertain myself? 

I took a breath and reminded myself that 1) There are clocks all over campus, and my iPod has the time; 2) Buses run on schedule, one will eventually come; 3) You can text later when you get home, and; 4) Look around. Live in the moment. Looking at a screen 24/7 is not a life. 

I have now managed to make this a regular habit during my week. I discovered that I was living behind my phone. It was a shield for social anxiety. I was scared to make eye contact with people and felt safe being in a bubble.

But that safe bubble is so boring. I started to wear a tiny smile on my face, and psychologically felt more confident, with my head held high, instead of down, looking at my phone. I got more readings and homework done. My idle time was spent reading paragraphs here and there, which left me with way more time for hobbies and spending time with friends physically, rather than via text. 

I am more creative. I used to spend lunches texting and checking updates and reading news. Now I’ll take a walk to check out the waterfront and feel inspired and re-freshed. 

I feel a sense of freedom. Social media makes us feel obligated. Obligated to check it constantly. It’s like working a job 24/7 that you don’t exactly remember interviewing for. We sometimes forget how finite our days on this earth are. Do you really want to spend them comparing yourself to Facebook posts that don’t tell the whole story? 

We are pioneers in a digital and technology obsessed culture. It is not normal to have direct access to every thought of every friend of every second of the day. It is not normal to have billions of bits of information, most of it not at our request, in the palm of our hands. It’s like having some sort of technology induced schizophrenia, with millions of voices gaining privileged access into our minds. 

The research of the negative health effects of constant social media connection are in their infancy, but your body can tell you when something is not right. Pain, including emotional pain are clear indicators that you need a break. No one, but you is going to look out for your well-being. Protect yourself. Close the curtains and let yourself blackout social media. Give yourself permission to just be.