According to Statista during 2019 and 2020, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 145 minutes per day, up from 142 minutes in the previous year.
That means most people are spending over two hours and fifteen minutes per day doing something that has been proven to make us feel worse about our own self-image and self-esteem.
What on earth are we doing to ourselves? We can’t say we care about mental health if any of this is true! But there’s even more. According to Healthline, studies have linked the use of social media to depression, anxiety, poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, inattention, and hyperactivity — often in teens and adolescents.
We either care about mental health or we don’t. It can’t go both ways.
Otherwise, we are the out of shape doctor telling everyone to get in shape. It’s just a talking point and it really means nothing. We must take action. We must unplug for our own sanity.
Quick question for you: what is the goal of those who make social media platforms?
The truth is the goal of every single social media platform is to get you to spend more time on it.
The more you’re on the platform, the money they make off of you. It’s that simple. Do companies care about your mental health? Most clearly they do not at all. They care about the bottom line. And that’s not up for debate. Zuckerberg will not be transparent about Facebook and mental health. (source) Why not? Because he knows the truth and it’s bad for business. There are shareholders that don’t want that info out in the wild, either.
Why Not Just Leave Social Media?
So, why don't most people just leave social altogether? Wouldn't that solve the problem?
For many users, it isn’t that they don’t want to delete or leave social media — it’s that social media has become so intertwined with the way that we live online that they can’t really escape it. Leaving social media would require a massive shift. People don’t like change. They like things that are familiar. And for many, leaving social space with their friends would be gone.
It’s also important to look at context. We are still living on the cusp of a pandemic. People are more lonely and isolated than ever before. It’s easy to see why so many people dislike social media but keep using the platforms. It’s where everyone you know interacts.
At a certain point, it became weird NOT to have a Facebook account or to be active at least on a few social media channels. But the good news is there is a way to unplug from the chaos and the struggles and prioritize your mental health.
The Better Way Is Surprisingly Simple
If you want to improve your health, start moving more conversations away from social media. I’m not saying you’ll be able to abandon ship overnight. Most of us are too tied to social media to do that, especially if you have an online business. But one thing we can do is start engaging more with people in a one-on-one basis. Real conversations — even awkward or uncomfortable ones — are always better than fake, censored, filtered conversations brought to you by an algorithm.
Here's a challenge to consider: message just one person and start chatting with them today. That’s it. You can do it on the phone, video chat, a brief video or even a letter is great too. Whatever you like.
It’s time to start reconnecting with people and not living our lives in an online bubble. This will also help us focus our attention on something more positive instead of social media.
What step will you take today?