COMMENT | Has social media taken over your life?19th February 2014
The use of electronic communication over the past 5 to 10 years has boomed. Most of us use mobile phones and the majority of under 30-year-olds have smart phones. Computers are an integral part of our lives. Few send letters now. Most communicate through instant messaging and emails.
Although these forms of communication are very useful they can also cause anxiety, encourage poor self-esteem and can be all-consuming to the extent of affecting friendships and work. The jury is out on whether texting and emailing is addictive, but for some their lives do seem to be controlled by social media.
Here’s a test for you. What’s the first thing you do in the morning – look at your phone for messages? Have you ever gone out and forgotten your mobile? How did you react when you found out? When you last went out for a meal with friends did you or they read or respond to a text? How did that make you feel if it was them? If you have done more than one of these you are probably overly attached and might need to break that control.
Research is beginning to show that social media may affect our self-esteem. You start comparing what you are doing and what your friends are doing and if their life feels more interesting you begin to think you are boring and wonder why they are friends with you. Your self-esteem drops. In some cases, to counteract this, you may make stories up and, if not careful, get trapped in a web of lies.
This over-consuming need to be online and letting others know what you are doing can be tiring. You constantly need to portray an image and can seldom be yourself. Let’s agree that it is exciting to know what others are doing, if they are being chatted up or if their work is boring. But we all need time out. Time to be ourselves. Time to recharge.
The hyper-state of involvement in others’ lives that technology brings can train us to be constantly online so that we don’t miss out. But as a species we have not yet evolved to be so inundated with information about others. Our own lives are complicated enough for us to deal with without constant bombardment from others.
We need to rest our minds. So why not take control again of your life? Why not go straight to the shower in the morning and look at your phone when you have got ready to go out? Why not have a half day a week (to start with) when you will not be on-line and let everyone know this is what you are doing? It will be hard but this is just an indication of how attached and out of control you have become.
Holidays are useful ways to rest the mind. To give it time to recharge. These time-outs are very beneficial and help to prevent stress and breakdowns. How about turning off your phone for half the day every day and focus on those you are with? It is great to tell everyone what you are doing on holiday. It can make you feel important. But how about becoming mysterious and keeping them wondering by holding back sending too many messages.
Technology is great but it also has to work for you. It is there to serve us not for us to become its slave. Communicate electronically but remember face-to-face communications builds better relationships. Try to spend time with friends and lovers and give them your undivided attention.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.