Social media is arguably one of the most valuable tools of the still-early 21st century. We’re using it to build the Taffeta audience, and your employer probably uses it to reach people and build communities, and if you’re self-employed, you may be doing this as well. Social media can also help you find people who think like, or at least understand, you.
On the other hand, things can often get rather heated on social media. Everyone has an opinion, and these various views can often clash – and end up ripping communities apart. In addition, consuming social media on a 24/7 basis isn’t good for your mental health.
Is it time for you to take a step back and develop a balanced social media diet?
The Dangers of Excess
Too much of anything is bad for you. For example, drinking water is one of the healthiest things in the world that you can do. However, if you drink too much water, you could develop hyponatremia. According to Mayo Clinic, if you drink too much water, your body’s sodium level gets diluted, water levels rise, and your cells start swelling. You may experience nausea and vomiting or headaches, or you may have muscle spasms and cramps, and in a worst-case scenario, you could go have seizures or go into a coma.
Likewise, spending too much time on social media can lead to an unhealthy imbalance.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 51% of adults who use Facebook say they check it several times a day. Among Instagram users, 42% check that site several times a day. No surprise: 46% of Snapchat users check it several times a day, as do 25% of Twitter users. And this is pre-COVID-19 data, so the numbers are likely to have spiked, since more people are at home with plenty of time on their hands.
Even though social media provides an online community, it can also lead to competition and comparison – a need to keep up with the Joneses.
Aside from the often-competitive nature of social media, keyboard warriors are plentiful. These individuals – who often may not be as aggressive in person – are dogmatic online, often rude and anonymous. Even well-meaning people can be so passionate in their views that they alienate others.
Is it worth engaging in controversial online conversations? Studies show that facts rarely change anyone’s mind. And that cuts both ways. Just as you might be frustrated that you can’t change someone else’s mind, they could be just as irritated that you refuse to bulge on your position. So why should you continue to argue?
Between the competitiveness and the potential for arguments, the more time you spend on social media, the greater the chances that you may be experiencing unnecessary anguish and stress.
And it is, indeed, unnecessary. It’s one thing to have to deal with negativity generated by your spouse, parents, or kids that you see on a regular basis. At the end of the day, these are your loved ones, and you need to address their issues. But you can easily choose to avoid conflicts with strangers and avoid social media stress by simply limiting the amount of time you spend online.
Social media serves a purpose, and it is a great tool when used appropriately. But don’t let it consume your time and distract from what’s happening in the real world.
Terri Williams is a freelance writer, covering business, finance, real estate, and lifestyle topics.