Social media is a great way to stay connected to people you would otherwise forget about. It can also help you reach out to thousands of others who you wouldn’t get to meet in another circumstance.
It’s also a great way to keep tabs on celebrities and causes you care about. If you want to know when your favorite band is about to release an album or when the Humane Society is hosting an event, follow them on the platform you use the most.
Despite this, sometimes social media can do more harm than good. Being too reliant on social media is a disaster for your mental health. It takes away the human connection and makes you feel awful about yourself. Trying to be updated on the latest events can also take time away from more important obligations, such as being with your family or doing your job.
Being online all the time makes it hard for you to put time towards working on bettering yourself or learning a new skill. Neglecting to take time for yourself can lead to stress build up, which often results in a mental breakdown.
Here are some of the top ways that social media can stunt personal growth.
Kills Your Social Life
1 in 4 people socializes more online than they do in person. That means people aren’t hanging out together as much and instead are opting for a digital substitution. Instead of watching a movie together, people text each other while they watch separately. Instead of talking about what bothers you on the couch with your friend, you’re chatting them on messenger.
Have you ever texted or Snapchatted a friend instead of seeing them in person? While being able to stay in touch is important, It isn’t quite the same as seeing someone face to face.
Online communication is excellent for connecting with people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. But when it takes the place of spending time with your friends in real life, it’s going to have a significant impact on you and those you love.
Choosing to only talk to people through the phone can make you feel like you’re alone and unloved. Sure, you have plenty of people to talk to. But if you never see them in person, it’s easy to start feeling lonely. Humans weren’t made to be alone, and staying in contact only through social media doesn’t count as having real relationships.
The next time you start talking to your friends for hours on Twitter, ask them when they’re free. Plan to see a movie or take a walk outside. You’ll be amazed at how much better it feels to hang out with someone in real life than to just send words on a screen to each other.
Shreds Your Self Esteem
Everyone plays the comparison game on social media platforms. These media make it easy to try and pick who has the best life. Almost all of the time, you can see that someone has it better than you.
Always comparing yourself to someone else will do nothing but make you feel bad about yourself. Too often, when we compare ourselves to others, we don’t look at the other end of the spectrum. We don’t see the people who have it worse than we do. We don’t look at the people who are suffering and who don’t have all of the things that we have. If you’re always focusing on what you don’t have, you’re going to be miserable.
If you place your sense of worth on how many likes you’re getting, you’ll never be satisfied. Social media platforms are constantly changing their algorithms. Something that performed well a few months ago may be completely left behind now. There’s no way to tell what will be popular, and what will be ignored.
Putting your value in something that you have no control over is a sure-fire recipe for low self-esteem. You’ll start to feel like something is wrong with you, just because people aren’t interacting with your content as much as you’d like.
When really, the problem has nothing to do with you. It comes from the way these platform developers decided to change the software. Social media inventors feel like they constantly have to offer something new. So even if what they currently have works well, they feel obligated to change it and add new features to keep users from abandoning ship.
Pressure to be Happy
Seeing everyone happy on social media can make you feel like something is wrong with your own life. You see your friends getting married, having babies, getting promotions, and making something of their lives. Meanwhile, you’ve been at the same job for the past five years and haven’t had a relationship in who knows how long.
If you follow enough people, you’ll know about at least one positive life-changing event every day. This can make you feel like you’re not good enough, or like there is something wrong with you. Maybe you see a few of your friends on vacation and feel slighted because you couldn’t get any time off. Maybe you see a cousin getting married and looking happier than you’ve ever seen him before. Maybe you see someone you knew in high school posting baby photos.
What’s more important is what you don’t see. No one posts pictures of their mental breakdown. No one talks about having a normal day at work. Because we’ve decided these things aren't worth our time.
You can choose what goes into the frame through which other people view your life. Would you choose to share things that scare you? The parts you are ashamed to admit? Most people don’t, and that’s why it seems like everyone else is living a happy life. When in fact, everyone around you is experiencing a wide range of emotions. Most of the time, you don't see this happening because other people don't want you to see it.
Prevents You From Developing Other Skills
If you’re sinking all of your time into social media, you don’t have the time to work on other skills.
This is a never-ending cycle. If you see someone on Facebook who’s created an amazing quilt and start beating yourself up about not having any talents, you’re doing it to yourself. If you spent the time you’re wasting on social media on developing a skill, you’d be a master creator.
Those people who make the Pinterest perfect cakes? They spent hours learning to cook, frost, and mold it until they were happy with it. That friend you have who can run a 7-minute mile? He spent hours working out and improving his run time.
Skills don’t come from merely wishing you had them. You have to put in the effort, time, and willingness to make mistakes first. Stop scrolling through Pinterest and start learning how to knit, or bake, or whatever else it is you want to accomplish.
Makes it Harder to Pursue Your Goals
There are a couple of ways being on social media all of the time can prevent you from reaching your goals. As mentioned above, if you don’t put time towards reaching your goal, it simply won’t happen. You have to practice, prepare, and execute the steps that will help you reach your desired result before you can get there.
Constantly comparing yourself to other people has another side effect. It can make you feel like you’ll never be as good as they are. If you feel like you’ve failed before you’ve even started, your motivation to try is going to go out the window.
These unrealistic expectations to perform can put a lot of stress on trying to reach your result as soon as possible. As soon as you start to think you’re not getting results, you’re more likely to give up.
You might also start to think that you have to reach your goals in a specific way. If you see one person succeed in their weight loss by going on a paleo diet, you might feel like you have to do the same thing as them. And then, when your body doesn’t respond in the same way, you’ll get frustrated and do something wrong.
Your goals are unique to you. There’s no right or wrong way to pursue them. Trying to make your journey match someone else you admire (or envy) online will only hold you back instead of helping you get to where you want to go.
We all want to improve ourselves. There’s something each person would like to change about themselves. However, being on social media and trying to live up to the results you find there will only serve to hold you back.