‘Hi, I’m Orlagh and I’m addicted to social media.’
It’s hard to grow up in this generation and not have an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, need I go on? With the internet right at our fingertips every second of the day, free wifi available in most public areas and the world connected all in one app – it would be hard not to be addicted.
Some call us Millennials, but I think I come under the Generation Z category – the post-Millennial generation. Millennials are those who have been working age from 2000 onwards, which was 17 years ago now. I know, it seems like 2007 was only a couple of years back, but ten?!
Generation Z are those that are born mid 1990s to early 2000s, which is me. With billions of people around the world having a social media account, we can connect with someone on the other side of the world with a simple ‘poke’ on Facebook (does this feature still exist?), or a ‘double-tap’ on an Instagram photo.
But with all social media available at the touch of a button, 24 hours a day, can we get addicted? Hell yes.
Can it be bad for our mental health? Absolutely.
The signs to look out for
Do you take your phone to the loo? Are you a constant scroller? Do you get the itch when you haven’t checked Snapchat for more than ten minutes? Here are some of the signs that would indicate you might just be a little bit addicted to social media.
- You go out to a nice restaurant or café with friends and family, and God forbid anyone touches their food before you can take a photo of it and post it to Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter all before you’ve lifted your fork. End result: the food is now cold and everyone is angry with you, but at least you got 30 likes on your post.
- You sleep with your phone. It’s within hand’s reach when you wake up so that you can scroll through and check every social media app before getting out of bed, to see what you’ve missed those whole seven hours you’ve been asleep. My phone has an entire pillow to itself, right next to my head.
- When you know people by their social media handle and not their actual name, and sometimes accidentally address them by it. Some are just so catchy that you just can’t help yourself, right? Looking at you, @smellycat123.
- You take your phone to the bathroom. Don’t kid yourself, everyone does it. You can’t bear the thought of sitting in a bath for twenty minutes and looking at the opposite wall, when you could be spending that time on your phone. Even an Irish make-up artist I follow on Snapchat (julz_smith13 – she’s great) has renamed her snaps ‘Crapchats’ for when she posts from the bathroom. Ingenious, I know.
- You ask people how their weekend went, but you already know from all their Snaps/Insta stories/Facebook posts and act surprised and interested when they relay it to you. You also ask questions that you already know the answer to from your backlog of stalking. You know, when you ask a colleague ‘Do you have any pets?’ yet you already know that they have a two-year old British Blue cat called Snuggles that has two different coloured eyes and a brown speck above its left ear. Normal, right?
- If you don’t post on Snapchat or Instagram of you eating out somewhere, having cocktails or doing something fun, you worry that people will think you’re boring and living a mundane lifestyle. It’s almost like a competition to see who has the most exciting life. Even if it’s just a picture of the work office, at least people will know you are not lying in bed doing nothing. This is a bit extreme, but I unfortunately have this problem. Must. Post. Every. Day.
- You don’t voice your opinions, you tweet them. Watching a TV show with friends, and talking about it out loud? Do people still do that? I’d rather tweet a hashtag and join in the conversation digitally than in person, thank you. When I’m watching Love Island, I have one eye on the TV screen and the other eye on my Twitter feed. Constantly refreshing and typing like a mad person so I can be the first person with the funniest tweet/snide comment. I like when people share my opinions on the Twittersphere.
- You can’t go twenty minutes without checking your phone. For some, twenty minutes could be fifteen minutes too long. Even at work, you secretly check your accounts online. If you don’t have at least one notification every 20 minutes, you get angry, thinking people don’t like you anymore, when realistically you just want the attention.
- When you hear some news or ‘hearsay’ from your friends, you go straight to Twitter to see if it’s true. You’re also secretly gutted that they found out this information before you did. You have your trustworthy sources, and if it’s not trending, it didn’t happen.
- You have more than one account on most social media platforms. One Twitter account? Try five (or more). I have my personal account, my PR/blog account, my One Direction fan account (yes it still exists), I also co-own a One Direction fan account that Niall Horan follows (DMs galore), and a few more fan accounts that I’m too ashamed to say I still use. I have my main Instagram account, my blog Instagram (I rarely use this as my main and blog Instagram just featured the exact same photos) and the Student Scran Instagram account. I constantly float between accounts, immersed in different timelines, different stories, different people.
Is social media bad for our health?
If Essena O’Neill’s dramatic online breakdown is anything to go by, then yes, social media can be very damaging to our mental health (have a google of Essena O’Neill and you’ll see exactly what I mean).
She broke down about the stresses of being a public figure on Instagram, that she would take over 100 photos of the same pose, making sure her stomach looked a certain way, her legs thin enough, just so she could pick the right picture to post. She would make sure she took the photos early in the morning before she ate, and after working out so she would appear thinner. She put on dresses and applied makeup to keep up appearances that she was heading out for the night, when in reality, she took the photo and then removed her fancy clothes and make-up and stayed at home. Everything about her life on Instagram was fake.
This is the downside of Instagram. We only show the good parts of our lives. The good times with friends, achievements we’ve made, and the things we like. It means people see our social media and think that we live a life full of sunshine and rainbows, which isn’t the case at all. This makes us compare ourselves to these pretty, skinny, toned, rich girls of Instagram that receive over 1,000 likes per picture. We can’t help ourselves but be jealous and wish we were like them.
However, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors and their life may not be as amazing as they make it seem. They probably have days when they feel like crap and don’t get out of their pyjamas and just like the rest of us, have bad hair days and even get spots.
Keep it real on social media, don’t be fake. Yes, you can showcase the good parts of your life but don’t compare your life to other people’s as theirs might not be as glamorous as they make it out to be.
Put the phone down
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s sitting in a restaurant or at a bar with a friend and them being on their phone. To me, there’s nothing more rude. Yes, take a picture of the food or drinks when they arrive (like I always do) but once that’s out of the way, the phone should be out of the way too. The art of conversation is not yet dead. Hopefully.
Be in the present. Show the person you’re with that you are listening to them and that you care about what they say. Your phone can wait for an hour or so.
Social media detox
I would love to be able to delete my Facebook and refrain from constantly checking social media, but I can’t. I think it would be very cleansing to step away from social media for a while and just live without the stresses of checking who’s doing and saying what and what they’re wearing. I might go as far as deleting the Facebook app from my phone as I rarely post on it and it’s full of videos and memes, with statuses being a thing of the past.
I rarely post on Snapchat anymore, preferring Instagram stories, but I still check other people’s Snapchat stories on the regular. I don’t like how caught up I am in how many likes I can get on an Instagram photo and how many followers I have, but I always feel like I’m in competition and the number should be higher. I have no idea who I’m in competition with, but it seems to be myself.
Life is not a numbers game, and it would be great if we could live our lives without seeking acceptance and gratification through likes on a photo.
One social media app I won’t be giving up, is Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter since 2007 and always find it best for hearing the news first and being in the know. I also make great connections on Twitter and think it’s a great way to promote my blog.
Is social media bad for us?
Social media will only be bad for you, if you don’t use it wisely. Don’t be a troll – if you’ve nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Don’t invest your whole life into social media, and be careful not to ‘overshare’ – don’t release your bank details.
I can’t seem to watch an entire episode of a TV show now without checking my phone. I have a serious case of social media addiction, but this summer I’m going to try and cut back.
It’s damaging to my health and it’s damaging to my phone battery. I’m going to cut down my usage to only a few hours a day and delete the Facebook app from my phone.
The only thing social media makes you is anti-social. Here’s the link to a video that really makes you think about how much time you spend on your phone, and that by constantly looking down, you’re missing the world going by.
And if you’re reading this blog post from your phone, PUT IT DOWN (only after you’ve had a browse through the rest of my blog, of course).