I am all about taking nice pictures and seeing what’s going on in people’s lives, but I do believe we can easily give social media too much power to make or break our feelings of self-worth. As a mom of three growing kids, I am at a loss when I’m asked whether I will allow my kids to be on social media when they’re older. Truth to be told, I need time to figure out the answer to the question: how much is too much? Social media can be toxic. Like almost anything else, it is a matter of dosage. Too much social media can prevent us from accomplishing what we need to do at work and at home. It can be one of our biggest wellness bullies and rob us of our sleep. In addition, studies have shown individuals who spend a lot of time on social media report feelings of increased anxiety and low self-esteem.But too little social media can’t be good either, especially for students who suddenly feel that they are cut off from family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. So what’s the solution? In order to find out, I needed to take a break from all of it. This may not sound like a big feat for those advanced souls out there, but for me, taking a week off of social media was a challenge to say the least. It was hard. Really hard. But after a week, here is what I came away with:
1. SOCIAL MEDIA IS A DISTORTED VERSION OF REALITY.
We sometimes forget the fact that what we see on social media does not truly represent someone’s life; rather, it’s just a glimpse at one specifically chosen moment in it. I look at my own Instagram page and see what’s missing: most of my real life.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA CAN DISTRACT YOU FROM THE MOMENT.
Social media often prevents us from paying attention to what is actually happening. I struggle with this all the time. I will be at my son’s basketball game, only to realize that I am watching the entire game through my filtered phone, and not with my actual eyes. This happens a lot at law school events as well: we are so busy tweeting about what we are hearing, that we aren’t really listening.
3. STILLNESS IS NOT THE SAME AS LONELINESS.
Getting off of social media brought much-needed stillness in my life. Stillness should not be confused with loneliness. Stillness is something I believe we all need in our lives from time to time: it’s a fundamental ingredient to our overall well-being. Stillness is something that helps us live in the present, and it’s something we can use to our advantage.
Social media is loud and busy. Sometimes, as law students and lawyers, what we really need is more stillness, more focus. If you can delete or even ignore social apps for a few days, you will see a major shift with your state of mind. You will be more productive and focused to get work done when you strip yourself of the procrastination crutch of scrolling through your feeds: it’s downright liberating.
“Social media is one of the most time-consuming things we do and — as with any time-consuming activity — we must discuss the health risks and benefits,” NFL player Isaac Rochell says. “I would never play football days on end. Instead, every six days, I take a day off. I view social media the same way, and we are inviting social media users to take Saturdays off.”
Rochell is on to something: taking time off can do us worlds of good.
With all that said, social media still helps me stay updated on people I care about, and I have no intention to let it go completely. But I am going to take a page out of Rochell’s playbook and implement our own “See you on Sunday” campaign at our house. Or maybe it’ll be a “See you on Monday” because Saturdays just have too many enticing things to post and read about.
Hey, I’m a social media work in progress, ok? It’s going to take me some time to reach a level of social media moderation I’m striving for.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said ” You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Slowly, but surely, we can all take that first step too.