Social Media Distancing: Disconnect from a Connected World

Social media can wreak havoc on our mental health. Here’s why you need to log off and practice social media distancing.

Humans are social creatures. We have a primal instinct to connect and communicate. In less than 200 years, we went from shouting to handwritten letters to telegraphs to telephones to pocket-sized supercomputers.

With the device you’re holding in your hand, you have the power to reach every corner of the globe. Just 10–15 years ago, the technology we have access to today was nothing more than imagination.

And now, we’re all connected somehow. Our society is more intertwined than ever before.

By using social media, the vast majority of Americans today are able to stay informed on what’s happening around the world.

Social media has given every person the power of unlimited reach. Unfortunately, too many users abuse this power. The loudest and most absurd voices garner the most attention.

The Dark Side

Social media is a force. A force that can be used for unlimited good, or unlimited bad. Unfortunately, the dark side has taken control of the force.

The current pandemic we’re facing is very serious, but there’s a far worse pandemic that was spreading long before COVID-19 appeared on the scene.

Anxiety and depression are the real pandemics of our era. They are symptoms of the virus of fear and deception, and social media is the main carrier of this virus.

Before social media, the distance a voice could travel was limited. Now, outrageous thoughts spread like contagious viruses across the world.

In seconds, any idiot can publish their thoughts for the entire world to see. Thoughts and ideas that were so wildly unimaginable just a few years ago are now not only gaining traction, they’re being accepted as truth and snowballing out of control.

What used to be a fun way to connect with friends and family has turned into a fear-driven, anxiety-inducing machine.

Fear Sells

Just a few short years ago, our feeds were far less cluttered with smut. If we wanted to explore the news, we had to go elsewhere on the web, or purchase an actual newspaper.

Not anymore.

Our feeds have been infiltrated with media outlets spreading political agendas, fear, pessimism, and negativity. We’re inundated with massive amounts of uncurated crap in real time.

There’s so much misinformation out there, and people blindly accept it as truth.

Media outlets purposely use misleading headlines to get more shares, because they know many people are too lazy to read the actual content.

The mainstream media knows how we are wired. By default, every human possesses a negativity bias. Our brains were designed to spot threats. It’s the reason doom and gloom is the language of the mainstream media.

Just a quick glance at the headlines and you’d think we live in the most dangerous and tumultuous period in human history. But, in truth, we live in the safest era in human history. There’s far more good than bad going on in the world, but you’d never know it. Good news doesn’t bring in ad revenue.

People respond to negativity. Fear grabs attention, fear gets clicks, fear sells. And if you don’t click, they don’t make money.

Disconnect

The absolute best thing we can do for our sanity and well-being, especially right now, is to disconnect from social media. Sadly, it’s becoming difficult to disconnect from a world that is increasingly connected.

At the moment, we’re all confined to our homes. As a result, we’re spending more time on social media, and I’m noticing a disturbing trend. More and more people are spreading garbage and being sucked into emotional political debates. It’s damaging and totally pointless.

Did you know that you don’t have to respond to every post you disagree with? You can keep scrolling. I know some people just like to debate, but you’re not going to bring sudden enlightenment and change the mind of a person who is just as entrenched in their beliefs as you.

“I’m sure glad that person went on a rant about the fake news I posted! He/she really changed my entire viewpoint on the subject!” — No person ever.

Why are you sacrificing your mental health and getting yourself worked up over something that is completely irrelevant? You may think you’re saving the world by putting that person in their place, but you’re not. You’re not the Facebook justice police.

If a former high school classmate or distant friend wants to peddle conspiracy videos and fear porn, let them. By responding, you’re only enabling. You’re allowing the viral smut to spread, and you’re allowing more worry and anxiety to pop up in your life.

Facebook debates are useless and a complete waste of your time and mental energy.

Just as we’re practicing physical social distancing to control the spread of COVD-19, we need to practice social media distancing to curb the virtual spread of misinformation, fear, and anxiety.

In these stressful times, we have to do all we can to facilitate health and wellness. Staying healthy has as much to do with mental health as it does with physical health.

Log off of Facebook. Put down the phone. Look up and take in the beauty that exists all around you. Things that have been there the whole time, but you didn’t notice because you’ve been immersed in a screen since the lockdown began.

This is a Gift

If I’ve learned anything during this quarantine, it’s that life is short. Although it feels like this madness will never end, it will. And when it does, don’t look back on this time only to realize you took it for granted.

Time is finite, it’s the most precious resource we have. It’s going to run out eventually, for all of us.

This time right now, this time you have while you’re locked up inside your home, you’re going to realize it’s a priceless gift.

Right now, you have time to catch up on the things you put off for months. Right now, you have time to start that side project you’ve been dreaming about.

Right now you have time to spend with your children, to hug them, to guide them, to laugh with them.

Right now, you have time to reconnect with your spouse. That man or woman you fell in love with so many years ago, that person is still there.

Right now, you have time to pause, to breathe, to reflect.

Right now, you have time.

Don’t give this time to things that don’t serve you or your family. You don’t have time for fear or worry. You don’t have time for pointless Facebook debates.

If you feel the urge to indulge in social media, use it as it was originally intended. Use it to connect with those people who have become isolated as a result of this pandemic. Use it to encourage those who may be feeling like it’s legitimately the end of the world. Use it to spread positivity.

Bottom line: You have a limited amount of time and energy, and they are both needed elsewhere at the moment. For yourself and for your family, you need to show up everyday as the best version of yourself.

Stay away from the dark side.

I’m not saying bury your head in the sand and ignore everything that’s going on in the world, but use common sense. Do some basic due diligence and vet the source before hitting the share button.

When you come across something that triggers you, don’t engage, don’t enable, just keep scrolling.

If you want to post something, make it something positive and encouraging. Something worth sharing.

Practice social media distancing. Disconnect from the world and connect with yourself.

Husband. Father. Runner. Writer for hire. Am I a hero? I can’t really say. But yes.

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