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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Social media: friend or foe?

Photo by Katie Kovac

By Katie Kovac

A few weeks ago, slouched on the couch with my phone practically at my nose, I took a look around. Peeking over the screen, I watched my roommates who were silently scrolling too. Nobody was saying a word. Pictures raced across their feeds as they paused, swiped, double-tapped, swiped and paused.

This moment looks normal to a lot of us, especially to those who are a part of the younger generation. Social media is a great distraction from being bored. When we wait in lines, we take out our phones. When the conversation dies down, we take out our phones. When there’s just nothing else to do, we take out our phones.

But I didn’t want to take out my phone again. I was tired of it all. My screen shows me the same things over and over: picture perfect moments scaled for value based on likes or hearts. I wasn’t happy with what I was consuming.

I held my finger down on the Instagram icon and watched it wiggle. What did I use Instagram for really? Every time I open it I never like the things I see. I clicked delete.

There was no moment of regret or a rush of FOMO (fear of missing out). I actually felt a sensation of relief.

Studies have been done on mental health and social media apps, and Instagram is the worst for our happiness. It can encourage feelings of anxiety, insecurity and depression. But it doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that, does it? Chances are, you already experienced moments of unhappiness when scrolling through the app.

It’s really easy for us to compare our lives to others. It’s even easier to compare them online, filtered and posed. Compare and despair. How often do you do that?

Social media isn’t a monster. It’s a platform to share ideas and express yourself. It helps us connect with people in ways never explored before. We’ve grown up with it, changed with it. We like it, even when it hurts to use. These apps are part of our daily habits.

I’m no exception to this. I redownload Instagram every time I want to upload something, but the feeling to keep the app isn’t there. I’ve found a balance.

If you wanted, what does you social media balance look like? Is it limited daily use, or deleting the app entirely? Maybe, it’s just looking up from that screen and reminding yourself that what you’re seeing isn’t the whole truth.

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