Social media usage is higher than ever, with nearly 3 billion users on Facebook alone. However, there is a growing movement among some people to drop social media altogether. Should you be one of them?
You might have noticed that despite its omnipresence in our lives, many people – including big hitters, from celebrities and sporting stars to luxury brands – are actively leaving social media, for a variety of reasons. Why did they decide to leave? After all, social media has drastically changed the landscape of the world, connecting people and creating new ways to share information. Right?
Here are some of the most common reasons behind people leaving social media, and why it’s maybe time you did too:
It’s Time Wasting
One of the biggest reasons people leave social media is because it has become such a major time sink. “Given the amount of time we spend each day on social media, are we actually learning anything valuable?” asks one user on Quora.
The Happiness Research Institute released a study showing that people who took just a one-week break from Facebook enjoyed significant benefits. They felt less stressed, happier with their social lives, and had an improved ability to concentrate.
“One thing I realized was that there was more useless than useful stuff on social media. Necessary news and updates might have been 1% of the news feed. The rest was just memes,” continues the user.
Many people are beginning to realize that by giving up social media, productivity levels begin to soar. Instead of spending hours every day scrolling through an only occasionally-useful newsfeed, people can use the time to focus on themselves and their goals.
Echo Chamber Effect
A more niche reason people have for leaving social media is to avoid its echo chamber effect. This effect is unavoidable due to social media channels’ algorithm, which curates your newsfeed based on what you like.
This groups you up with other similar-minded people and outlets, drip-feeding you information and opinions that tend to reinforce what you already believe. At its most sinister, this echo chamber effect creates division between groups, ideologies, and even nations. Have you seen the U.S. lately?
It also creates pressure on people to share the same opinions as their peers. “I felt enormous pressure to post it (the BLM profile filter), even though I didn’t know what it meant. I felt like an invisible hand was compelling me to repost – otherwise, it would mean I didn’t care about BLM and that I was a racist,” says one online commentator.
No matter what your beliefs or opinions, social media will reinforce them. Stepping out of the social media bubble gives you an opportunity to meet, and hopefully understand, others who share different worldviews from you – and that can only be a good thing.
A well-studied consequence of social media is that it can have a negative effect on a person’s life satisfaction and subjective well-being. It has even been linked to depressive symptoms. “Social media made me feel pathetic about my life for no reason at all, and I have met many people who agree with me,” laments a user on Quora.
The curated, best-foot-forward nature of how people present themselves on social media can make others feel inadequate about their own, seemingly mundane lives. After all, who wouldn’t get jealous of a beautiful influencer posting yet another vacation shot on an equally beautiful beach?
However, it’s important to keep in mind that what people post on social media is not their regular lives – it’s a highlight reel of promotions, perfect family lives, and runny poached eggs. What viewers don’t see are the four overcooked eggs off-camera.
Regarding quitting social media due to social comparison issues, one netizen says, “I feel much happier, more confident now. I no longer have to compare myself to others and feel inferior while scrolling the Instagram feeds, and I have a lot of free time which I can dedicate to learning and improvement.”
Many people are beginning to see problems with having years of personal data available online.
An example of this is TikTok user Doggface208. He went viral for making one of the most-feel good videos of 2020, featuring him drinking cranberry juice while riding a longboard to the tune of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. However, this sudden large following led to him getting “cancelled” because some people found a video of him on Twitter from six years prior singing a rap song that included a racial slur.
Whatever your feelings about rap lyrics containing racial slurs, what cannot be denied is that social media has allowed a person’s past to be there for everyone to see, even years later.
Another downside to having all of this information available online is that companies can take advantage of it to make money. “In early 2018, I deleted my Facebook account after the Cambridge Analytica incident,” says one user on Quora. The amount of data on a person available online is frightening, and the ways it can be used to manipulate even more so.
Use It When You Need It, Not When You Want It
We’re not saying that social media is all bad. It has many great uses, but as with most good things, too much of it makes it a negative. There’s nothing wrong with relaxing to a corgi video or checking in on a long-lost friend, just make sure that social media doesn’t take over your life and replace real relationships with online ones.
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