While social media keeps occupying more space in our lives, the question arises whether social media should play such a huge role in our daily time-spending.
In a society in which an increasing amount of people complain about issues to sustain work-life balance, competition for our attention is fierce.
Especially for young entrepreneurs and ambitious people in general, it is important that many of their activities add some sort of value to their life.
This can be anything from exercising to maintain a satisfying fitness-level, to educating themselves, to spending quality time with the family for stress relief and enjoyment.
But does social media fit into our busy schedules?
What advantages can we hope to gain from social media?
And what are potential downsides?
Benefits of Social Media
Our first look will be on the bright side of things.
Looking at it logically, social media has a lot of great benefits in store for us.
Connecting with people
One of the reasons social media was built and got popular at a mesmerizing speed is the ability to connect with basically anyone at any time.
This is the first time in human history that this is possible, a technological and societal breakthrough.
Because we got used to it very quickly, we sometimes forget how powerful this ability is and how it impacts our lives.
Take the example of travel. Back in the day, when no one was walking around with a technological extension of themselves, there was no real way to keep in contact with someone who did long and extensive traveling.
Sure, you can get a postcard once in a while, updating you that the person is still alive and how his plans have changed for the future of his stay.
But that is a one-way communication, with heavy delay, and very limited space for content.
Now, with smartphones, and especially through social media, you can immediately reach anyone, everywhere, any time.
You can send photos, voice messages, videos, long texts, documents, and more.
This way, parents have an easier time to let their children go on their own adventures, and friends have the opportunity to stay in close contact despite physically being hundreds of kilometers away.
On top of that, it enables you to share your trip and experiences with virtually anyone you ever came into contact with.
Since I’m sure you know all that already, let’s see what else social media has to offer.
News and education
Social media has been criticized for its the low value of information, introducing clickbait-culture and the spreading of misinformation.
Looking past that, for someone who is willing to invest the time and effort, social media can be an outstanding tool to educate themselves.
Distinguishing quality content from trash articles, and taking most information with a grain of salt are two examples of required skills in order to use social media as a source to inform and educate.
However, once you can do it, social media provides a multitude of opinions and trustworthy content that allows you to see things from different perspectives.
By functioning as the world’s biggest melting pot, you will have to troubles to see every side of a story, before forming your own opinion.
Another obvious benefit of social media is entertainment.
With the existence of endless content, specifically tailored to your fields of interest, boredom potentially does not exist anymore.
Instead of waiting for the bus, or mindlessly sitting in the doctors waiting room, you can watch videos of your favorite personalities, read on exciting and recent trends, or just scroll through the endless stream of memes.
The options are infinite.
Coupled with the right mindset, social media can be the fuel to your fire to achieve your goals.
Since most people only care to share content that lets them shine in the best light possible, it creates a sense of perfection.
Only seeing the best pictures, funniest videos, and most valuable posts a person has to offer will make it look like that person is enjoying long-lasting and genuine happiness.
Furthermore, influencers are setting high standards for beauty definitions, and what a good life looks like.
Being solely exposed to the accomplishments of other people, without facing the failures and disappointments, makes your life compare unfavorably.
This is because you not only experience the highs, but also the lows of your journey.
Looking at people who seemingly do better than you, while facing the flawless beauty, bodies, and success of influencers can make you want more, do more, and act more to achieve your dreams and work harder.
Networking is getting increasingly important.
And social media makes it that much easier.
Especially with LinkedIn entering the scene, social media extended from private to business networking.
Additionally, personal life and business are closely connected. More than ever.
Having the possibility to reach influential and important people, and extending your circle continuously, can open up many opportunities in business and private life.
Because social media is natural to use and easily integrated your daily routine, it provides the perfect engine to expand your reach.
Pitfalls of social media
After we looked at the wonderful benefits of social media, we might feel like spending a lot of time on it.
Anyhow, there are just as many downsides of heavily social media use to consider.
So before we start concluding, let’s see the potential threats.
Even though we discussed that social media can be useful for entertainment or news, this only holds true if you use social media with a specific goal in mind.
This, for most people, is often not the case.
In fact, oftentimes, we find ourselves scrolling through the endless stream of content, without really looking for anything specific.
We end up looking at pieces of content without gaining any real value from it.
Sure, it’s nice to be entertained at will’s demand, but if you mindlessly expose yourself for long periods of time, you do nothing but wasting your time.
What starts as coming home after school and wanting to relax for a little bit, might escalate into one hour or more of doing nothing really.
Also, the quality of entertainment is often low and the content repetitive.
The average person spends almost 2,5 hours every day on social media.
If you read, exercise, meditate, sleep, study, or just have a cup of tea with friends, you gain great benefits and progress in your goals and relationships.
However, what do 2,5 hours of social media actually do for you?
Sure, you might want to get some news and updates about what’s happening world-wide or what your close-ones are up to.
But I’d argue that can be easily done in 30-40 minutes every day.
So what are the other 2 hours used for?
What justifies social media to play such a huge role every day?
In many cases, there is no real answer to this.
If you ask people why exactly they spend this amount of time on social media, they don’t know.
That’s because they don’t consciously decide to scroll through social media for an hour without break.
It’s a habit, or worse, an addiction.
Now, again, since everybody seems to struggle with scheduling and not having enough time at their disposal, I’m sure you would find very reasonable substitutions to fill in those two hours.
Recent headlines about the way social media companies treat our data have sparked huge discussions about the trustworthiness of these corporates.
At this point, many have surrendered their privacy, not feeling like there is a way to protect it.
Because of the damage of the mismanagement of our data is hard to asses and not very concrete, it is easier to just accept the current state of affairs and to live with its consequences.
A sad reality.
Since it will prove difficult to change the way these companies treat our data whatsoever, the only choice we would have is not to sign up for their service.
After all, we have to remember that social media is on a voluntary basis. Something that is easily forgotten these days.
As Mindfulness, one of the four pillars to living a better life is closely related to emotional well-being, we at Emerging Athlete deal with it on a regular basis.
Therefore, looking at how social media affects our well-being and happiness is obviously a big part in assessing whether social media is worth our time.
While I praised social media for its potential motivational boost earlier, that is only the case with limited exposure and the right mindset to back it up.
Ironically, extended use has quite the opposite effect.
And it makes sense.
Looking at how perfect everyone else is in comparison to you cannot be healthy for longer periods.
The sometimes impossible to reach expectations and standards set by these platforms and influencers are not realistic for the average person.
On top of that, it does an excellent job of reminding you about your flaws and showing you that no matter what you are good in, there is always someone better.
being confronted with this morphed reality daily can make you forget that everybody struggles just as much as you do.
This leads to feelings of separation and self-hate.
Because instead of being bored at the bus stop, or in the dentist’s waiting room, you scroll through your phone for instant-gratification and pleasure.
While social media can be praised for eliminating boredom, it also streamlines the daily input and reduces the time you spent outside of your comfort zone.
When Cristiano Ronaldo shares an Instagram post, 162 million subscribers are happy to see it.
That’s 162 million people being exposed to the same content.
Now imagine all of these being bored instead.
They might start talking to strangers while waiting on the bus, stepping outside their comfort zone and developing their communicational skills.
While it’s obvious that not everyone is always waiting on the bus when checking out Cristiano Ronaldo’s new posts, you get the idea of it.
Instead of making unique and valuable experiences, expanding their comfort zone, talkative skills, and receiving individual inputs, everyone looks at the same picture.
In return, this not only streamlines the input people get but also the conversations these people have.
Moreover, we are on track to mainly use digital communication, instead of face-to-face conversations.
Is social media worth it?
After listing the pros and cons of social media use, we can conclude that there is no universal answer to this.
Anyhow, while it is possible to make a case for limited social media use, it’s hard to recommend the extended use an average person is currently submitting himself to.
Even though it might prove useful and informative for some time, the longer you use social media the less value it will provide, and the more harm it will exert.
Since there are just as many downsides as upsides to social media, everybody should weight these arguments for their personal situation.
Have a long-distant relationship? That might be a reason you really want to keep social media.
Struggling with self-acceptance and confidence? Perhaps try to limit your use or even consider quitting.
In the end, we have to ask ourselves the questions if the upsides outperform the downsides. And we have to be honest about it.
If we cannot objectively justify the time we spend on these networks, we should reconsider our consumption patterns.
What is your experience with social media?
Do you think it’s a blessing from the skies?
Or are you having a hard time looking past the negative aspects?
Leave a comment below and participate in the discussion!
Thanks for reading, guys!