5 Signs You Need To Reevalulate Your Relationship With Social Media

Over the last several years, social media has become embedded in the culture of our generation. It seems like everywhere you go, there’s always someone either watching Tiktoks or shamelessly making them. Scrolling through social media is so easy and entertaining that it’s hard to gauge how much of our day we spend staring at our phones; it’s also hard to see how mentally and physically draining it can be. Right now, stop your binging for a second and check to see if any of these situations apply to you:

  1. 1. The first thing you do in the morning is check your phone.  

    Just like our bodies, our brains need time to wake up. When you open your eyes and immediately look at social media, you are overwhelming your brain with information before it’s fully able to process any of it, which can set you up to feel distracted and stressed throughout the rest of the day. It’s hard to ignore the anxiety of being disconnected, but if you find yourself reaching for your phone while still half asleep, remember that whatever is on your phone can wait another twenty minutes. It’s way more important for you to start your morning on the right foot. 

  2. 2. You constantly compare yourself to people you see on social media.

    sad and alone girl breakup

    While there are many creators today who try to deromanticize the influencer lifestyle, it’s still impossible not to see people living luxuriously and wish that was you. What’s worse, it’s impossible not to keep looking. I’ve heard the phrase “People only show their best selves online, it’s not real life” so many times, but that concept never seems to stick. I still continue to compare myself to a Facetuned image of someone on vacation, imagining that it was me with abs in the Maldives. To whoever needs to hear it, Instagram should not be making you feel bad about yourself. If it is, then it’s time to log off. 

  3. 3. You closely monitor the number of likes and comments you get. 

    Physiologically, likes on social media cause the brain to release dopamine, creating what the inventor of the like button, Justin Rosenstein, describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure.” It seems rather innocuous at first, but the second we start using the number of likes we receive to determine our mood and measure our self-worth, it becomes dangerous. 

  4. 4. Taking “Instagrammable” pictures or videos of a moment feels more important than being present in it. 

    selective focus photography of person taking picture of jelly donut

    Have you ever had plans to go somewhere, like a concert, or a party or even a restaurant, and thought about the posts that could come from it? Or when you got there, did you stress about the lighting or camera angles instead of just having a good time? It’s an amazing thing to be able to share fun events on social media, but the process of capturing those moments shouldn’t preclude your enjoyment of them. Maybe snap a pic or two, but remember to put the phone down and live in the moment, too.

  5. 5. At the end of the day, the last thing you do at night is check your phone. 

    Woman staring at phone at night

    I’m sure you already know that this is bad. It messes with your natural circadian rhythm, strains your eyes, and makes it more difficult to relax at night, not to mention the fact that 30 minutes you plan to spend on your phone often ends up being more like three hours. Like checking social media when you wake up, this habit is fueled by a fear of missing out. If you’re not online, then how will you see your friend’s Snapchat story? Or that funny video on Tiktok? Or the latest trending topic on Twitter? Social media use has become so habitual that these thoughts probably don’t consciously go through your head – and that’s the problem.

If you can relate to any of these things, then it’s probably time to rethink your social media use. We’ve all accepted a new normal where we check our phone notifications obsessively and scroll through Tiktok before bed, but just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s okay. Social media is made to be addictive, so breaking any of these habits will be hard, but adhering to them will only hurt you in the long run. Maybe your screen time won’t drastically change after this, but by taking little steps toward detaching yourself from your online presence and reducing the time you spend staring at your phone, you can set yourself up to rebuild a healthy relationship with social media and improve your mental and physical health.