If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of time online. You’re sending an email to your mom, sourcing new recipes, researching your next mattress, buying a gift for your friend, and any number of other things. In fact, data in both the U.S. and worldwide show that most people spend almost 100 days of each year… online. That’s almost 48 hours of our life each week during which we’re not sleeping, interacting with our loved ones, walking, shopping, or playing with the dog. And, of that time, we’re spending nearly two hours each day on social media.
While this may be great for Mark Zuckerberg, for the rest of us, all this scrolling can have a serious effect on our mental and physical health. Like most things, social media has pros and cons. It’s great for keeping us connected over long distances and reminding us when someone has a birthday. A recent study found that routine use of social media is positively associated with mental health, social well-being, and health. In contrast, having an emotional connection to social media flips all three.
Are you enjoying social media and reaping the benefits or obsessing over it and suffering the effects?
Here are six signs it’s more of the latter.
You can’t stay away. Typing “how to reduce time on social media” brings up 954,000,000 results in less than a minute. If you have tried to limit your time on social media and found that you can’t, or that it is really difficult, you are not alone. Research has shown that social media is more addictive than cigarettes! Not only is it hard to resist the urge to go online, but it gets harder as the day wears on.
You aren’t getting things done. Ever procrastinated by checking Facebook or Instagram? How many times a day do you stop what you are doing to see what’s happening on Twitter? Social Media is a major distraction. It might not be shocking to learn that social media distracts us from getting work done, but it turns out, it distracts us from a lot of other things as well. A 2018 study found that Instagram is keeping people from going to the gym!
You don’t feel connected. Seems counterintuitive, right? But in fact, a study found that social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. And the more time participants spent on social media, the more they reported feeling lonely and isolated. It’s the worst kind of loop! You go online to connect to the world, and the more you go online, the less connected you feel.
You can’t stop comparing yourself to others. Remember when you were just jealous of the neighbors when they got a new car? Now you live in a virtual neighborhood that is crowded with people with better everything: vacations, loves, children, and meals. As much as social media is connection technology, it is also comparison technology. One study stated that we are constantly regarding every post as an upward or downward comparison of our own life which leaves many of us in a constant state of longing.
You aren’t sleeping well. Whether it’s scrolling too long right before you go to sleep, the blue light of the phone interfering with your body’s natural circadian rhythms, comparing your life to everyone else’s highlight reel, or feeling overwhelmed by all the things you aren’t getting done, there’s a strong correlation between sleep trouble and social media use – both in terms of how well you sleep and how much.
You don’t feel good. Achy bones and joints, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and upper neck and back pain are all physical ailments that come from too much social media use. Anxiety, overwhelm, sluggishness, disordered eating, and depression are all mental ailments that have been linked to excessive social media use.
Staying Healthy AND Staying Connected
From turning off notifications to downloading apps that lock you out, the world is full of advice on how to limit the negative effects of social media. These are useful tools, but I was looking for something else – not a way to limit the negative effects, but a positive experience that reinforces why we want to connect in the first place!
So I built it. Daily Haloha is an app that was designed to foster mindfulness, connection, self-confidence, calmness, and well-being. Each day you are sent one fill-in-the-blank question. When you answer it, you attach your own mood to your answer, and it gets sent to one other person – anonymously. You also receive one answer anonymously from someone else. After you acknowledge that person’s answer, you are taken to the Daily Haloha Wall. Here you can see and respond to all of the answers from that day – anonymously.
It’s only one question. There’s no endless scrolling and no distractions. Once you answer your question, respond to the answer you are sent, and check out the wall, your daily connection ritual is done.
It’s 100% anonymous. There’s no incentive to be inauthentic or put your best face forward. The whole process is anonymous, free of judgment and free of status and popularity contests.
It gives you space to check in with yourself. Taking those few minutes each day to answer the questions and think about how your answer made you feel will help you stay on track with your goals for your health, productivity, and general wellness. It will also help you be more mindful the rest of your day – including how you are using social media!
And you might compare your thoughts to those of other people, but instead of feeling like you can’t keep up, you’ll realize you aren’t alone. You’ll see answers that are similar to yours, answers that make you think, and answers that you don’t understand. You will feel like you are part of a big complicated world full of people trying their best, just like you.
We’d love to have you join us. www.dailyhaloha.com