Social Media, Mental Health and No Internet

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My relationship with social media is complicated. Obviously, there is a lot of good in social media: it is how we communicate with friends, it can be how we learn more about important issues and it can be a source of comforting and inspiring messages.

However, I definitely spend too much time on it. Endlessly scrolling with no aim or motivation is a common occurrence for me. My issues with social media however don’t just stop there. At the very beginning of the first lockdown, I became increasingly aware of how social media affects me. I realised that I didn’t always need to see everyone’s opinions on things – I don’t particularly care what an old workmate or someone I went to primary school with thinks about a celebrity break up.

In response to this, I took some initial steps to make my social media better for me. I unfollowed and unfriended some people and started following more positive accounts. However, this didn’t stop all the problems. I still went on social media a lot. Even if you’re receiving positive messages, social media can still be overwhelming. It allows you to see opinions that you would otherwise never know, and whether you agree with them or not, it is still an artificial and bombarding experience.

Therefore, I thought I would go on a social media break at some point. Emphasis on at some point. This hypothetical plan wouldn’t have involved going without all social media – Messenger and Snapchat are too important for chatting to friends. However, all the social media that I don’t necessarily use socially would go. I don’t really (or ever) post on Facebook or Instagram, yet I go on them every single day. So, if I don’t use them socially, what is the point of them as a social app?

Even though I have had this grand plan in my head for months, I still haven’t done it. I have even found myself in positions where it would be very easy to accomplish. There was a week when I didn’t have Wi-Fi, but even in this perfect situation I still went on social media. I was trying to save my data for messaging friends and watching YouTube to relax, but I still went on Instagram at least twice a day. While I certainly went on it less than normal, it was still a part of my life.

I discovered that if you have no internet access and click on Instagram or Facebook you can still scroll through posts you have previously loaded. Therefore, I would find myself looking through these already seen posts. Why… I could not tell you. Sure, I went on social media less, but maybe it was because I was bored of seeing the same things again and again. In this time, I did also manage to achieve some of the benefits I thought I would achieve without social media. I read multiple books. But this didn’t necessarily replace social media time, it was more because I couldn’t watch Netflix. So, what was I doing with the time I would normally be on social media? I was either actually still on social media, or playing a game on my phone. Playing a game was definitely a healthier choice (it engaged my brain more), but it still meant I was reliant on my phone. And that, I don’t know what to do about.

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