Social media addictiveness necessitates self-discipline

Phone with an urgent notice on it
By J Frank

I will be the first to admit it: I am chronically online. All jokes aside, social media is a large part of my life (considering my main gig is working as a social media manager) and not always in a positive way. Social media is a great way to share what you are doing with your friends, post photos of loved ones and keep up with what everyone is doing — but there is the main issue.

It is too easy to get caught up in social media in ways that may not only be debilitating to one’s daily life and completion of necessary tasks, but also damaging to one’s mental health. Focusing too closely on what “everybody else” is doing on social media platforms often gives the user a sense of “FOMO,” or fear of missing out. They might suddenly feel like their decor, their clothes or their life are not “aesthetic” enough. Or, in other words, not up to par with those seen on TikTok or Instagram. 

They may feel like, in the spirit of aesthetics, they should categorize themself and their style into a box and only present themself in a specific way all the time. Social media is unfortunately a breeding ground for self-hatred and self-consciousness due to popular trends like “body checking” and aesthetic lifestyles.

On the flip side of this, there is also the undeniable addictiveness of social media. Despite how it makes us feel (generally negative), for some reason, we can never seem to stop scrolling. Maybe the next post will be the best thing we have ever seen, right? It is a gambler’s mentality; you might be one game away from something truly fulfilling, after all. That said, sometimes it is not even a conscious act — my thumb has a mind of its own on TikTok. I will give myself a “five more minutes” warning and find myself sitting in the same position an hour later, still scrolling. 

While this does pertain to a lack of self-control, there is also a specifically targeted algorithm working against your will to keep that app open. Social media algorithms keep track of what you like, share or even stare at for too long and take that into account when they show you more content. It is already hard to stop scrolling but when every post is tailored to what you enjoy, why would you ever want to?

Another problem that runs rampant on social media is the mass consumerism. Scrolling on my “For You Page” on TikTok yields video after video of product advertisements. If you are not on social media, you probably would not know about the frenzy to buy Stanley cups or Dior lip oil. The words “downtown girl” and “coquettecore” probably would mean nothing to you. If you are clueless as to what I am referring to, lucky you. Social media trends are constantly changing; one week you might see hundreds of conventionally attractive people marketing a certain clothing style or product to you, and the next, the same people may be dressing a new way or using new products. 

Companies frantically keep up with the changing trends, and so do consumers, usually by throwing out old clothes to buy new ones (most of which end up in landfills). Because of social media, fast fashion sites like Shein and Temu have a large advertising base for their low-quality products. Clothing trends have always been a thing, predating even advertising and mass communication, but with social media, the trends are cycling through — and being left behind — faster than ever. 

I still use social media several times a day — I cannot say I have fully escaped from this cycle whatsoever. However, I have implemented control in the form of setting app time limits and scheduling screen time into my day so that I leave plenty of time to be productive. Social media is a fun place to get lost and scroll every once in a while, but getting too caught up in the idealization of life on these platforms can be detrimental to one’s mentality, productivity and wallet.

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