What is Social Media, and what is it used for?
I have been using social media for many years. I used it before the time of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the other popular platforms of today. I am not sure when I learned about the term ‘social media’. It might have been taught to me, or I could have understood it from my regular usage of the platforms. Between the two, it’s probably the latter.
If I was to ask a group of friends ‘what is social media?’, I will most likely find very different answers. Some might interpret it as any form of two-way communication, while others may only consider social media as a social network. I believe that the way you use social media determines how you define the term. So to me, social media is a two-way web-based communication and information platform. I use it to interact with others but also to consume information.
The pros and cons of social media.
When the popularization of social media began in the 2000s, a new debate emerged about their harmful effects on society. My first deep dive into that world was when I signed up for a Facebook account. It was in 2006, and I loved it. I had just left home and was starting my university degree abroad. It was great to connect with my school friends, family but also to meet so many new people. Fast forward to 2020, and we can now find hundreds of new platforms to choose from. There is Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik-Tok, and many more. Moreover, we can now use them in many more ways than before. On a social network, we can advertise, promote, protest, advocate, raise awareness, debate, and learn.
Despite those benefits, there have also been increasing concerns about how social media plays in mental health. Excessive use can result in higher anxiety, depression, isolation, cyberbullying, self-absorption, inadequacy, and fear of missing out. With two opposing factions battling against each other, it can be challenging to find a middle ground. With that in mind, here are three tips that I picked up during the years that might help.
Social media and mental health.
1. Get engaged with a non-digital activity. Picking up a new hobby that does not require the use of digital devices. It can distract you from the allure of constantly checking what other people are doing. Some suggestions can include picking up a sport, attending a workshop, joining a book club, and many more. A new activity can help you redirect your thoughts to a better state of mind and even interact with your community.
2. Practice meditation. Take a few minutes every day to clear your mind from all distractions. With so many thoughts, emotions, worries, and everyday stresses, meditation can help individuals to be more mindful of their environment. Such awareness enables people to be more conscious of their actions. So after a few weeks of mindfulness, you might think twice before picking up your phone to check your Instagram feed.
3. Monitor how much time you spend on your apps. Sometimes we don’t realise how much we use our devices. Thankfully, now we can find out. On most smartphones, we can now check how much time we spend on social media and reduce it accordingly. Disabling your notifications, deleting the apps, or putting your phone on airplane mode are just some of the suggestions.
Social media has now become part of society, but how we use it depends on us.
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