Today, we live in a world that is more interconnected than ever before…
We can be anywhere, snap a photo on our device, and upload it within seconds for all our friends, family, and colleagues to see. We can share virtually anything we choose, anytime, any place. But the negative effect of social media may be just as pervasive.
There’s no denying that social networking sites are a revolutionary new construct, likely to change the way we view and share information forever. However, there is also no denying that the social media revolution has brought with it a set of problems just as groundbreaking.
The Negative Effect of Social Media
So, is it all bad? Not at all. Social media is a tool. When used properly, it can be greatly beneficial for both our personal lives and business endeavors. But, like any tool, if used without paying attention, it can easily cause harm to its operator. And that’s what this article is really about – paying attention.
You must be aware that what you see on social media isn’t reality. That’s right, your screen is lying to you. It’s lying to you about the grandeur of everyone else’s lives and the inability of your own to match up. The worst part is, most of us are eating this lie like it’s candy.
As social creatures, few things are more significant to us than how we fit into our “tribe.” On a psychological level, this relates to our perception of self, our self-worth, and our role in society. The trouble is, much more of this is now done artificially, hiding behind a screen rather than putting ourselves out into the “real world.”
To an extent, we can make ourselves look like anything we choose. It’s just so much easier, right? When using social media, do you post the drab details of your day-to-day, or do you only showcase the most exciting things you’ve done lately? It’s the same with everyone else. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we’re wired to seek validation and positive feedback, and doing so is now easier than ever before.
Two Sides to the Same Problem
The inverse of this idea is that we’re also attempting to validate ourselves based on how we stack up against the E-lives of everyone on our friend’s list. Spend enough time behind the screen, and soon your self-esteem may very well be in the trash can at your feet.
The comparison game is a game that simply cannot be won. And that’s because you’re comparing your behind-the-scenes footage with everyone else’s highlights reel. Our brains are wired to filter in information to support our current belief systems while blocking out that which does not, and nowhere is there more fuel for this fire than on your homepage news feed.
Are you excited and supportive when you see others having the time of their lives, or are you quick to feel insecure, even envious? This can be an accurate measure of how full your own cup really is.
To make matters worse, our increasingly sedentary ways coupled with a growing addiction to technology have created a recipe for disaster. Mix this disaster batter with a scoop of artificial fulfillment-seeking and we’ve got a real problem cooking.
If you can see this, consider yourself lucky. Many simply cannot.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we banish social media and return to the stone age with a tin can and 6 feet of string. Actually, quite the contrary. What I am suggesting is that we limit our idle time spent mindlessly scanning our news feed, that we stop buying into the idea that everything we see is reality, and that we quit imagining everyone else spends their weekend’s cliff diving while we’re stuck grinding it out at work. This just isn’t reality.
Life Beyond the Screen
Take the advice presented here and you may begin to notice something peculiar. That is, the guys who are really living the life of your dreams, those who are really crushing it in every lane, probably aren’t posting a selfie every time they take their dog for a walk.
Actually, they’re probably not posting much of anything at all. And if they are, I’d be willing to bet it’s inspiring, positive, or humorous; no needy taglines attached. That’s because the most confident version of you lies outside the box of validation you once swore you needed. It lies outside the incessant obsession with the lives of others. It is found in taking control of your own life and needing no “likes” from anyone. As a matter of fact, the most confident version of you has nothing to prove at all.