When deciding upon a New Year’s Resolution, I thought long and hard about what change I could make that would have the most positive impact on my day to day life. What bad habit takes the most time out of my day, prevents me from being productive, and negatively impacts my mental health and self-image? To me, the answer was obvious: social media.
Although I’ve never had a Facebook account, I all too frequently find myself in the mind-numbing loop of Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. The vicious cycle goes something like this: check every new post on one site, move on to the next two, and finally return to the first to see if anything was posted while browsing the others. As you can imagine, it’s truly never ending and just as toxic as it sounds. It’s not that checking Instagram every once in awhile to see your friend’s picture is an issue, the real problem arises when you keep on scrolling afterward.
I don’t care to think about the countless hours I’ve wasted staring at a tiny screen, my eyes glazing over as I search for…what exactly? What kind of gratification am I looking for in a fabricated, pixelated world? I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but in my personal experience, I have never scrolled through a Snapchat story and been left feeling better afterward. Usually, I feel left out, inadequate, and like I’m not “living my best life” in the way that everyone else seems to be. Now just imagine the time I could have spent doing something to actually make myself feel good, all of the time I could have been reading, writing, making art, or going for a run.
I understand that social media has had countless positive effects on society and it allows us to connect with others in a way we couldn’t before, but it has also progressively become more and more of a fantasy world for us to escape into. We are now capable of creating any type of life we want others to see, regardless of whether it’s real. It’s become difficult to separate reality from fallacy. We pick and choose moments in order to create the best, most exciting day to day existence possible.
Don’t like how you look? Some filtering and editing should fix it. Went to a party that sucked? Post that one picture of you and your friend looking like you’re having the time of your lives. Creating a new virtual life isn’t hard, and we often substitute it for working to improve upon ourselves or for simply accepting and being happy with the fact that real life isn’t flawless. Slowly, we begin to abandon reality in exchange for what? Staring at a screen, comparing our imperfect real lives to the glamorous fake ones created by our peers. Obviously, social media isn’t real life, but the constant bombardment of content can be damaging in the long term to our self-esteem and our emotional and mental health.
For myself at least, it’s time to take a break from my phone for a little while. This is one New Year’s resolution that will be tough to keep, as it’s one of my worst habits to pull out my phone and automatically open Instagram. I have a feeling that it’ll be worth it though, and I’m excited to see the ways that it improves my life and my self-esteem. Looking up from the screen, deleting the apps, and reestablishing a relationship with the world around me might just be the best decision I’ve ever made.