A few weeks ago, I did a little bit of a social media experiment. I promised myself that I wouldn’t post anything on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for a month.

I lasted 7 days.

Those seven days were probably the loneliest days I’ve had since the turn of the year.

Although it didn’t help that Ed Sheeran had just dropped his new album, so I felt like I had to appreciate his greatness and let the world know how good it was.

During those seven days, I found myself lifting my phone out of pure habit, unlocking it, and locking it straight away again.

At times I would check the time, and my brain was so transfixed on the Facebook application that had been unopened in three days, that when I locked my phone again, I forgot what time it was.

I deleted and reinstalled my apps at least four or five times, and on the seventh day I cracked and went on Twitter.

Which made me think; why is social media so important in my own life? What do I get from it that I can’t get somewhere else?

In a way, I feel like social media is like a drug; and many of us (myself included) are addicted to it. It’s like a digital dopamine that hits the brain when we get dozens of likes on one of our photos. It’s a drug that essentially feeds the ego and happiness of oneself.

Then there’s the FOMO (fear of missing out). When you go out on a night out or for lunch, and your friend says “did you hear about Sally and Joe breaking up? It’s all over Facebook”. But you haven’t seen it and the post has been deleted, so you feel like you’ve missed out a little.

Or when someone unfriends you and you take it to heart thinking that this virtual friend has some sort of vendetta against you, when in reality you’ve only ever spoke to them once on a night out when you passed them toilet paper from underneath the toilet door.

Growing up in the age of social media is both a blessing and a curse; it is a platform that has the ability to do great things and promote such positivity. However, it is also a virtual space in which people have the ability to completely destroy someone’s confidence and self esteem without even realising.

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It gives people full reign to say and do almost whatever they want, seemingly with no consequences.

And it really gets in the way of genuine communication. How many times have you been out for lunch and the people around you are stuck on their phones double clicking on pictures of cats when there is a real person in front of their face?

How many times have you walked down the street and almost bumped in to someone because your eyes are glued to your screen? (I’m guilty).

And if you were to go through your Facebook friends list; how many of those people would you genuinely say hello to if you were to see them on the street?

I recently seen someone on a night out, and had them on my Facebook friends list — they completely blanked me despite me waving and enthusiastically saying ‘hi’, more than once. So I was surprised to receive a message from them a week later after deleting them, asking why had I deleted them. Self explanatory really.

For me, social media really is an addiction. I’d be fooling myself if I tried to justify the amount of time I spend on Twitter when I know that it isn’t normal. But then again, that is the society that we have built our foundations upon.

Nowadays, social media is purposeful in so many ways; and I love when it is used to promote positivity and happiness. And I’m not going to lie, I really do enjoy watching cat videos at 2:00am.

But social media is so powerful, and with great power comes great responsibility. And I hope that we all are able to enjoy these digital platforms responsibly.

Originally published at mydiaryofaquarterlifer.wordpress.com on March 19, 2017.

Originally published at medium.com