Why Social Media Sucks
By: Austin Moncivaez
2019 is here, and I’ve personally already seen hundreds of posts on Facebook and Instagram about resolutions people are setting. Lose this many pounds, read X number of books, limit screen time to however many minutes a day. The list goes on and on. I want to be clear right now and say that I think New Year’s resolutions are good. I think making a conscious effort to better yourself is a great thing. But as I was scrolling through my feed (because limiting screen time is not a resolution of mine), I had a thought. I think social media has had two drastically negative effects on our culture.
It seems like a lot of the resolutions I see are motivated more by the potential of praise of friends and followers than the actual benefit of the change itself. Don’t get me wrong, getting healthier, reading more, spending more time with family, those are all great things. Things that should definitely be priorities in our lives. But if you’re striving to achieve any of those goals, or any goal at all for that matter, so that you can get likes and thumbs up on Facebook, you’re missing the point. This is the first issue that I see. I’ve seen so many moments posted on Facebook of anniversary dinners, family events, and other joyful times that are in and of themselves just that – joyful. But it seems like people are more excited to post their experiences online so that everyone knows what they’re doing, than to actually experience them.
Social media is great for so many reasons. I personally can’t get enough condescending Wonka memes. But one of the worst things that it has created is a culture of competition…often with people we don’t even like or know. I’m all for competition. I think it can be a healthy and effective motivator. But if you’re comparing yourself and your progress in the gym for example to other people on your newsfeed, you’re in for a vicious cycle of disappointment and dissatisfaction. I call it, “The 3 D’s.” Disappointment, Dissatisfaction, Depression. And no, before you leave a comment, I’m not saying that by looking at other peoples’ progress and trying to keep up with them you will automatically spiral into depression. But it can start moving you down that path. I’ve seen it happen. Falling into depression is a journey, not a light switch.
Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ve been guilty of this myself on more occasions than I can count. I would go to the gym, have a great session, and maybe even hit a PR. But if I open Instagram and see that someone across town that I know hit a 10# PR and mine was only 5#, then all of the joy and satisfaction that I felt would instantly vanish. Even though in my head I knew that I had worked hard and earned a worthy prize. I wouldn’t enjoy my reward. Comparing your progress and status to other people, truly will leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled.
Don’t let social media steal your joy. If you’re a competitive person, use that to your advantage. Challenge yourself to improve in whatever area of your life you see fit, but don’t compare your progress to people in your news feed. This year, make yourself a resolution and stick to it. Read more, watch less, and be intentional about the time you spend with those you love. But don’t do it so that you can post about it.