Recently an ex Facebook employee said the platform is ‘destroying how society works’. Even Facebook has now admitted that too much use of its platform can damage people’s mental health. This applies to various social networks, not just Facebook.
Social media is addictive and contributes to negative social comparison, which leaves people feeling insecure, anxious and even depressed or suicidal. Some say it reduces the in-person social interactions that are critical to individual and societal well-being. And what about cyber bullying? And the physical implications of damaging eyesight, posture and quality of sleep due to squinting at bright screens late into the night and first thing in the morning. The world of social is not looking pretty.
Now let’s flip the script
I have experienced many of the above. But, I have also experienced exponential personal and professional growth due to the abundance of online content available to me. Social media has enabled me to build a global network of meaningful connections and relationships. I can share my work far and wide at the click of a button and take advantage of the huge career opportunities presented by social media. It’s pretty amazing. What a time to be alive!
This is an unprecedented time. But, for the sake of our own health and wellbeing we’ve got to deal with the negative side-effects. Fast.
Whose responsibility is it?
I don’t mean deal with it by getting Facebook to implement tools to help people interact with the platform in a more healthy way. That’s good but, what we need runs much deeper than this. How social media is affecting us is only a reflection of who we already are. Social media platforms are inanimate tools, they do nothing on their own. It’s our interaction, contribution and response to them that brings them to life in all their forms – positive and negative. Perhaps in this reflective nature, the negative effects of social media are simply highlighting the areas where we humans need to develop ourselves.
Technology is evolving faster than humans
Whilst social media platforms are developing rapidly, I’ll be first to put my hand up and say that I’ve still got plenty of personal development to do and it’s a much slower process. When I look around, I think most of us are not yet operating at optimum levels. That’s not to say many are not trying and progressing, but overall we are still in the early stages of a conscious evolution. Personal growth is still only part of a few people’s lives and it takes time.
What characteristics do we need to develop?
Our evolution involves developing:
- Psychological strength, health and stability
- Emotional regulation and resilience
- Conscious control of our own behaviour
- Self-awareness and reflection
- Uninterrupted connection to our true/ spiritual self
These are precisely the attributes that will help us engage with social media in a more healthy and productive way. They will help us not get caught up in negative social comparison because we will feel secure in ourselves and need less external validation. They’ll help us limit our time on social media as we’ll be less susceptible to addictions. They’ll help us heal our pains and traumas rather than projecting them onto strangers via Tweets and comments.
Evolve or devolve
Social media doesn’t look to be going away any time soon, this is now the world we live in and we have to learn to handle it. Social media companies should take some responsibility for the impact of their products on society, but to put responsibility solely in their hands is a devolution of power over our own lives. Ultimately it’s up to us. We have to choose to evolve. Let’s start now…
As you come to the end of this article, you have a choice: click to the next article… or, look up at the beautiful world around you. Talk to that person nearby. Go for a walk. Read a book. Cook something nice. Go to sleep. Do something creative. Meditate. Work out.
And whatever you choose, do it without taking a selfie and posting it on Facebook.
About the author: To find out more about Pinky Jangra, please click here.