Social media, not so social

By Hana Baig

A few years ago, I had my smartphone stolen.

Never mind the story of how — the consequences are what affected me. I had fallen sick the same day, and I had no phone. No social media, no method of communication. There were only long hours of lying in bed, wondering what I could possibly do through my days of recovery.

Granted, I should have focused on nursing myself back to health, but the boredom that ensued made me realize how much time I regularly spent lost in a virtual world. It was an addiction and I was suffering from withdrawal.

Social media has become a common pastime for most teenagers. In the uneventful crevices of the day, it is easy to opt for social media as a form of company. But this routine comes with consequences that jeopardizes live communication and mental health.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, an excess of internet use can cause mental health concerns such as depression, ADHD, impulsive disorder, paranoia and loneliness.

The most common symptom caused by social media is anxiety, as an inundation of information from the internet acts as a constant, comforting activity. When someone is away from their social media applications for too long, their natural instinct is to reach for their phone and indulge in the addiction.

This subconscious anxiety bleeds into other aspects of life, inviting a lack of communication skills. People are less likely to talk with others face-to-face when they have social media as a supposedly sufficient substitute for it. They would rather deprive themselves of genuine human connection.

Instead of gaining communication skills, social media participants are more susceptible to self-esteem issues. According to behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva, 50 percent of relationships have been negatively affected and 60 percent have also noticed a negative impact on their self-esteem due to social media.

Social media feeds on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are constantly updated, and are constantly being checked in turn. Some of these posts, capturing exciting adventures or professional models, can create the illusion of perfection.

Whether or not one is aware that online content is not always true to reality, it is easy to be convinced otherwise. This creates a domino effect in feeling pressured to maintain a picturesque social media appearance that is unattainable in real life.

Social media is detrimental mentally and emotionally, but can also do damage when it comes to focus.

There are countless instances where I find myself sidetracked from my homework because of Instagram, once again wading in a pool of guilt when I see my incomplete assignment before me.

In these cases, temporarily deleting social media to minimize distractions or detox is a quick fix in completely removing the apparent problem.

Social media is a revolutionary creation, and the complete removal of it would be unrealistic and unbeneficial, as it provides upsides and allows expression as well. Keeping this in mind, it is a matter of using social media responsibly and being present and aware with every tap of the screen.