Last Updated: March 31, 2020, 8:09 pm

OPINION: Social media can be harmful, cause a lost sense of self


Remember the worst breakup you’ve ever experienced. Remember the pain you felt. Everything your world revolved around changed in an instant. It sounds ridiculous, but breaking up with your phone can be just as painful.

The millennial generation is filled with iPhones and other electronics. It’s a natural reaction to wake up, roll over and scroll through the notifications on our phones; however, when you do this it can immediately build a state of panic over something you forgot the day prior or read something upsetting, and it can lead you to start the day off negatively.

Anxious people are constantly wondering “what if?” and are always focusing on the past. Edward Hallowell, the author of the book “Worry,” says, “Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.”

Our minds naturally worry because we’re living in the mindset of “what if this happens?” It’s the fear of things that haven’t even happened yet. When we wake up and start reading messages about things we have to do, things we forgot to do or things we’re too late to do, we’re setting ourselves up to have a really rough day and be super anxious.

The book “How to Break up with Your Phone,” by Cathrine Price, provides data from Moment, a time-tracking app with nearly 5 million users. According to the data, the average person spends four hours a day interacting with his or her phone, checks his or her phone 47 times per day, half of us check our phones in the middle of the night, and one in ten adults even check their phones during sex.

Many people are beginning to realize their relationships with phones are unhealthy due to the amount of time they spend aimlessly looking at or grabbing for their phones.

Why do none of us consider the amount of time wasted on our phones and the number of things that could be accomplished if we weren’t? How does the amount of time we spend on our phones affect our moods and the way we view life?

Our phones can be used for all sorts of things, but often times when you get on your phone, even for an important purpose, you can easily get sucked into news, social media or just texting a friend. When you are conscious of yourself using your phone you’re able to assess how it makes you feel, and the emotions you have before using your phone.

Be aware of your feelings after using your phone. Pay attention to the apps you use, the parts you obsess over and the parts that shift your mood. Each of us should take a day or two to be aware of ourselves and how we feel in each aspect of our phone usage. 

After you’re able to gather the feelings you have toward your phone, you will be more aware each time you reach for it.

Why do we reach for our phones so often? What emotions are we reaching for that our phones make us feel, or even what emotions are we trying to avoid by reaching for our phones?

Throughout all of this emotional awakening, we are able to look deeper and identify what is causing us to reach for our phones and will be able to work through it. 

“When did raw, unfiltered, no-makeup happiness go outdated?”

Jess Johnson, DSN staff

There have been so many times I’ve taken a break from social media because of the way it makes me feel. In this generation, we are able to be whoever we want online. Our pages on social media are just the very best version of ourselves.

I could have the worst day of my life, get in a car accident, have $2 in my bank account, whatever it may be; however, if I get a photo standing next to a really nice car and look really put together that’s all people will see. They didn’t see that day full of different struggles. Online we are able to perceive who we are however we choose, and that can create a false reality.

It’s so easy to see a photo of someone and immediately be envious of their clothes, how pretty they look, their perfect bodies and how much money they must have to be doing these things they’re posting.

It’s easy to get sucked into these apps and to even try and compete with them. It’s so important to remember that photos can be edited and there is a person no different than you who posted it; we’re all just doing our best.

It’s time to look a little deeper. Why do we have to post the very best version of ourselves? Why do we download editing apps to change the way we look just for a platform to keep up on?

When did raw, unfiltered, no-makeup happiness go outdated? Our generation is obsessed with being popular, looking perfect, making money, but what is the deeper meaning behind all of that? We’re looking for approval from people we’ve never even met, but do we even know why? 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a presence online, but you need to be aware of what you feel about yourself when you get on your phone. When we alter ourselves for someone else to be satisfied we are no longer honoring who we truly are. 

Remember what you were before you had an Instagram and what you loved about yourself before you started listening to and looking at others. We are all trying so hard to hide the fact that we’re human, but being human is beautiful. It’s natural.

Regardless of the amount of us who will admit it, being human online – a brutally honest human about the good, the bad and the ugly, not just the gym picture but the picture of your side rolls when you bend over – is a lot more beautiful and courageous than covering up who we are to fit in.

Just like any addiction, trying to quit looking at your phone or deleting your social media cold turkey is not practical. How to Break up with Your Phone suggests these tips:

  • Set a reminder on your phone or screen saver to remind you to set it down.
  • Charge your phone in any room outside your bedroom. Your bedroom should be a relaxing and peaceful space where you feel calm.
  • When you wake up, think about yourself for a second before your phone interrupts you. Give yourself time to organize your day and begin with a good mindset.
  • Designate times during each day where you set it aside.
  • If all of this seems too intense, start by making yourself a no-phone zone.

The time we spend sucked into our phones is time we could spend falling in love with someone else or even ourselves. It’s time we can use to find new things we love and make our lives more meaningful.

I hope each of you checks in on yourselves often, makes changes where you see fit and will remember that before you were trying to imitate someone you saw online, you were less judgemental of the reflection you saw in the mirror. Each of us has to reflect on how we use our phones and pay attention to what we use it for most. Make time to listen to how you feel and be present in your life. You never know what you may miss if you’re always looking down at your phone.

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