It’s probably the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you do before you fall asleep at night. You pick up your phone, scroll throw Twitter, check your notifications on Facebook, browse your Instagram feed.
It’s just become part of the routine, day in and day out.
What’s wrong with a little mindless scrolling every once in a while? Well, for starters, it’s rarely just “once in a while”-many of us end up spending several hours a day on social media. And we may be even be aware of the most prominent issues with this-it’s a waste of time, what we’re seeing isn’t real, we get too caught up in getting lots of likes and retweets. But there’s another reason that social media can be harmful, and it’s something that is not discussed enough.
Throughout the day, we need to be mindful of what we’re putting our energy towards.
It can take a lot of effort to become conscious of where we’re really putting in effort and what we’re spending time on. Personally, I like to be selfish with my time and energy. I spend plenty of time by myself each day because I need lots of “me time” to function, and I can concentrate completely on doing what I want to do. But in a world where it’s all too easy to end up spending a half hour reading someone’s tweets instead of focusing on something I should be doing, like writing, that concentration can easily be shifted from an important task to Twitter.
When we spend time on social media, we are putting our energy towards other people. Often, they are people we do not know, do not care about, or may even strongly dislike.
We joke about stalking people we don’t particularly like on Facebook or “hate reading” someone’s tweets or following someone simply because they post things that are ridiculous.
Sometimes, it’s good to put some energy towards other people through social media-liking a friend’s picture to give them a confidence boost, commenting to tell someone congratulations on a big announcement, or just checking on what your relatives and friends you haven’t seen in a while have been doing.
But when we spend a lot of time on social media, it is all too easy to slip into the habit of wasting our energy on people who do not matter to us.
We end up getting angry over opinions they post that we do not share. We feel jealous if it looks like they’re more successful than us. We may spend a lot of time thinking about choices they’ve made that we don’t agree with. They take up space in our thoughts, and these thoughts don’t serve us in any beneficial way.
Social media is not just sapping your time, it’s sapping your energy. We get wrapped up in other people’s lives, problems, and concerns.
We feel pressure to add as many friends and connect with as many people as possible on social media, but I recommend being very careful about who you add, follow, and interact with. Having thousands of “friends” might seem like a status symbol, but do you really need constant life updates from people you couldn’t care less about? We need be mindful about who we connect with and share our energy with both online and off.
If you find yourself feeling tired, unmotivated, and stressed throughout the day, there could be plenty of things causing it, from diet to sleep to physical activity to changes at work or school. But when you experience these feelings, consider your social media use.
Taking a break, going on a “deleting spree” through your friends list, or even quitting social media entirely might help your mindset.
Yes, social media can be fun, and it can also be extremely useful. But at the same time, it can easily be detrimental to our mental health. If you’re feeling low on energy, don’t waste it by worrying about other people’s posts and photos-hit that “log out” button and focus on yourself first.