From your younger sister to your auntie, nowadays it seems like everyone’s on social media. I recently learnt that the average Brit spends 1 hour and 20 minutes a day on social media platforms (and for anyone thinking about their 3 hour Instagram binge last night, that’s just an average). It’s become integrated in everything we do – from nights out to morning commutes, the world is constantly plugged in to social media. If you add up the total time, it’s more than 9 hours a week. In a year, that’s 20 days.
I’m going to be honest with you: all those minutes you spend on social media are a waste of time. Unless you’ve got an independent business you run via Facebook (and if you do, you’ll know running a business is way more than writing statuses), all the time you spent scrolling hasn’t brought any value to your life. Short term you may feel better from seeing your ex has shared a really cringe quote that made you question why you ever dated, but long term, you haven’t gained anything. What if you could get those 20 days on Instagram and Twitter back? With 20 extra days in the year, you could achieve so much. People often say ‘you never remember the nights you got plenty of sleep’ (which is BS because I have some pretty wavey dreams) but in that same vein, you really won’t remember the nights you sat on Facebook.
Hooked on Dopamine
As well as sucking our time, we already know that social media is detrimental to mental health as it creates self confidence issues and makes people project a fake version of themselves. It fuels all kinds of FOMO – you feel upset that you missed events you didn’t even want to attend in the first place. But did you know it’s addictive for more reasons than just wanting to keep up to date with what the latest meme craze is?
Using social media platforms gives us a feeling of social affirmation (how often do you check your likes to see if your best friend/other half/ex FWB has liked your photo?) and this causes a release of dopamine in the brain.
Wondering where you’ve heard of dopamine before? If it’s not from RHCP lyrics or edgy Tumblr names – d0pamineQu33nx – it’s because that’s the chemical released when we drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and sniff cocaine. The good feeling it creates is what part of makes people always reach for a second rollie/order that next Tequila/get into debt with their dealer. The problem is it’s addictive, so us silly humans keep going back for more.
So, is it Bad or Not?
Social media makes us temporarily feel good – thanks Dopamine – then gets us addicted, but is also known for damaging us mentally. I’m no psychologist (Although I did get a B at A-Level thanks to Research Methods) but surely being addicted to something that makes us feel worse in the long run can’t be good news for cognitive behaviour.
I’ve made the conscious decision to cut down my usage to once a week (Sunday afternoons). That means no mid-morning scrolling, no evening Facebook binges, no more Instagram polls. Would you rather spend 9 hours a week on history’s most uncool addiction – looking at images which subconsciously make you feel worse – or take back control of your life and see if you feel better? Whether you spend that time to learn a new hobby, watch more TV or just see how different things are without social media, the odds are you’ll definitely notice the difference. Try it this week and let me know what you think.