Social Media is a tool. Like any tool, it can be used in positive and negative ways. The overindulgence of anything can be a bad thing. To say that Facebook or any other social media does nothing but harm people is not entirely fair. That said, there are certainly many harmful things that can come from the misuse of social media.

The social media goof or bad debate points or many. In this article, you will find a number of reasons why social media is bad for students and adults alike. In understanding these reasons, we can be better equipped to not let them be a defining influence on how we engage on digital social platforms.

I’m going to give you the pros and cons of Facebook and other social media platforms along with some tools to help you reframe your thinking.

I’ll also share with you my experiences of joining social media when it first came out. What happened when I deleted Facebook after just 2 weeks. And what happened when I switched to scheduling my social media time and how all of the above can help you feel less anxious.
Let’s get this straight out there, I am a huge fan of social media and the role it plays in connecting people like never before. My first computer was an Atari ST (I bet you have no idea what that is) so it’s safe to say I know exactly what life was like before Facebook and other platforms. Having been one of the first owners of a brand new computer with windows 98, I can give you an honest and true experience of the before and after experience of Facebook.

The pro’s and cons

There are some clear pros and cons to having social media in my life and I’m sure you will resonate with a few of them.
Here are the pros and cons of using social media as a school student, and in fact an adult! The rules do not change as much as you would think as you get older.
PRO’s
CONS
Meet people you could never have before.
Vulnerable to abuse from strangers.
Catch up with friends.
Fall out publicly and painfully.
Have insights into other people’s lives.
Become obsessed with making comparisons.
Keep your memories in a digital space.
Have a corporation own your personal life.
Quickly get opinions.
Be consumed in toxic gossip
Find out social news quickly.
Be manipulated by biased media.
Keep up with the latest trends.
Become addicted to notifications.
Look at funny cat videos
Be exposed to distasteful social conduct.
Whilst some of these are experiential and anecdotal, you will probably resonate with at least half of them. You’ve probably loved the fact that you can find out all the social information you need on Facebook and Instagram. It’s also likely that you’ve had fallouts on social media and have been sucked into situations and conversations that are destructive.

Before Social Media

Social media is a tool, but it can be used in many helpful or abusive ways. Before it came along, I would literally have to phone my friends and hope they were home when I called. Then MSN and Yahoo messenger came along and it was like I could instantly chat with everyone at the same time. MySpace swooped in a few years later letting us have personal expression online. Finally, the Facebook era began and we all became hooked on other people’s lives. In those early days, it was a really positive force, but as time has gone on – the dynamics have shifted.
A number of psychologists have noted that the full ramifications of how harmful social media is are still unravelling. It takes around 20 years or so to map out the psychological impact, but the data already points to the increase in anxiety, comparison complexes and emotional instability that can be caused by overconsumption of social media.
This is not a blog to bash Facebook, but I hope that you can gain a few tools to help you navigate it just as I have. It was only in 2019 when I started to feel the anxiety of comments, likes and ‘not being in the know’ kick in. I started to feel as though the more time I spent on social media, Facebook in particular, the more anxious I felt.
I greatly loved the fact that I could connect with so many people beyond my neighbourhood, but it became addictive in so many ways. There was a new surge of comparison where we would all look through each other’s photos and gain personal security be comparing our own lives. It took years of realisation (and we still fall into the trap) before understanding that every photo was staged and perfectly shot. It’s rare that we show off the worst moments of our lives. As a result, all we ever see is our friends, family and random strangers having a better life than us. We end up comparing everything and feeling pitiful about ourselves.
This is not healthy.

Delete the app and feel better in less than 2 weeks

We get a massive dopamine kick when we see the thumbs up and heart icons light up. It’s the same feeling that you would get when gambling in a casino. They show you enough notifications to make you feel good, withhold the positive feedback and then show you them later to keep you checking in to see them. Knowing this makes it seem somewhat manipulative. And it is! The goal of all social media platforms is to keep you on for as long as possible. More time means more ad exposure, which also means more money.
Advertising is not a negative aspect. We all get that ads and views are how you make a platform financially sustainable, heck we even have them on this blog. However, the sticking point for me is when the aim is to manipulate you to stay longer, even at the expense of your well being.
Facebook is a phenomenally helpful tool, but when we start to have powerful negative emotions as a result, then something has gone wrong. We are not in control of the platform, the platform is in control of us. When we realise we are in these situations, we need to step away.
A few weeks ago I deleted Facebook from all my devices. I still have messenger and I check the desktop version once every day or so for no more than 10 minutes just to check-in. In the first few days, I found I would still open my home screen and automatically tap the space where the Facebook app used to be. I used to often intend to only open it for 5 minutes and find myself scrolling endlessly before closing it again. Rarely would I engage with the content, It just became a habit.
The thrill of likes and Instagram hearts sapped hours in the weeks of my life. Despite all the content, my relationships were never deeper, people were just as distant as ever and what’s more, is I was constantly exposing myself to uninformed political opinions that had little to no substance simply because the algorithm had decided that’s what I’d like the most.
After 2 weeks my anxiety virtually disappeared. I was less irritable and had significantly more time on my hands.
The weird thing is, at first you will find yourself being bored – and that’s a good thing. If you can let yourself be bored long enough and not waste time on apps then you become quiet long enough to discover other things to do with your time. I can write 5000 words a week easily, cook, complete projects, produce videos and work my usual job all with the extra time I have saved from not scrolling my life away.
It takes some bravery and patience to do it, but the rewards are incredible. I even lost all desire to compare myself to other peoples pictures! When you starve yourself of platforms that propel you to comparison, you actually start to feel better about yourself.

Choose How To Use It

Now, it’s worth mentioning that I have not completely abandoned social media. You don’t need to give it up completely (although, this may be the right step for you). It’s simply about reducing the hold it has on your life. When I use it for around 10 minutes, that time is spent catching up on the feed ever so briefly. It’s also spent checking in with people who live very far away and then contacting them on messenger if I want to connect more.
Effectively, that 10 minutes a day is enough to make it look like you are present and active on social media, without letting it sap hours of your life. You can decide what role you want to let Facebook and other platforms have in your life. Yes, you might not be able to react to everything that’s going on with your friends instantly, but you can revive a conversation – you can also add an opinion after everyone’s had there say making it carry weight and be fully informed as far as hearing everyone out goes.
Is Facebook good or bad for you? Well, yes if your life is sapped by it. On the other hand, no – if you can discipline yourself enough to not buy into the fear of missing out. Use it as a connection tool, not as an escape from life. When you start to feel anxious, or like it’s taking over, cut it out and delete the app.
Honestly, make it a rule that you can only use the desktop version and you will find yourself using it in the ways I’ve mentioned.


APPLICATION

Make an agreement with yourself now and list out the ways you want to use Facebook ad other platforms. Knowing what you want from the platform can really help you not get sucked into the scrolling abyss of waste time. You might want to agree with yourself that you won’t get dragged into arguments. You might decide that you will delete or unfollow anyone who posts harmful or destructive content. You might decide to take that daily 10-15 minutes to drop meaningful comments to people.
Whatever you decide, do it intentionally and thoughtfully. Don’t let Facebook become something that is bad or harmful to you. Use it for good, and use it for purpose.

Discussion Rules: I’m not into thought policing at all, but I am big on honour and respect. Opinionated is fine, but if you’re ill-mannered or nasty, expect to see your comments disappear. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (All credit to Tim Ferris’ site who I totally took this idea from).

Julian Joseph

Author Julian Joseph

More posts by Julian Joseph

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