Today, #DoItforTheGram has become more of a lifestyle than just a hashtag. More than 78 percent of Americans are on social media, and an estimated 1.96 billion people worldwide are social media users.
In the modern digital era, we are constantly trying to mold our lives to appear perfect and desirable to everyone watching — it can become exhausting to keep up with. Many users have taken the initiative to temporarily or permanently log off of social media, tired of “seeing the world through a screen.” Even big-name celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Ed Sheeran have announced their breaks from social media.
This trend has emerged as an online movement dubbed “social media cleansing,” which naturally is tailored to fit the needs of each person. Though most reported positive and eye-opening results after quitting social media, scientifically speaking, will logging off of social media actually improve your psychological health? Psychologists say excessive use of social media can lead to more serious problems than one might predict. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, explained how Facebook use can lead to symptoms such as insomnia, low self esteem, social anxiety, isolation and depression. Sophomore Sydney Schwan backed up the statement with her personal 2-week social media cleansing experience.
“I got a lot more sleep, slept earlier and the next morning I felt a lot more refreshed,” Schwan said. “You just felt healthier as a person.”
The Social Comparison Theory, proposed by social psychologist Leon Festinger, says that as humans, we evaluate our own personal worth based on how we measure up to other people. The Guilford Journal’s study of this phenomenon oversaw college students’ social comparison tendencies and determined that “people feel depressed after spending a great deal of time on Facebook.” This is due to the fact that they feel insecure when comparing themselves to others on social media, as sophomore Sam Cook confirms.
“You go on your feed [on Instagram] and you see everyone else’s lives seem dope and it kind of makes you feel bad,” Cook said.
Much of the media on Instagram, Facebook and similar applications are highly idealized representations the average person. This can cause intense feelings of jealousy and the false belief that other people lead better and more successful lives. Many social media apps have become platforms where people can flex their achievements, travels and lives. We beautifully stage our images online to hide the dullness of our reality. The constant social comparisons cast a hyper-focus on self-image and what other people are doing rather than what you want to do.
“I started doing a lot more things for myself rather than for social media,” Schwan said. “I think it is important for everyone to at least try it.” Still not convinced? Here are eight reasons why doing a social media cleanse improves your lifestyle.
1. Sleep. The five minutes you allow yourself to use for signing off on Snapchat and Instagram turns into 50 minutes. The next thing you know, you are replaying the same Tasty video that you have already watched 20 times that day. Without a doubt, you will be getting more quality hours of sleep per night. Plus, lack of sleep makes you fat!
2. School. This is probably the most obvious result you will notice from the cleanse. Without social distractions, you are less likely to procrastinate, have more time to study, be more focused and therefore, perform better in school.
3. Lead a meaningful life. When you are not constantly looking at pictures of clothes, nails and bikini bodies on Instagram, you begin to notice and care about interactions in the real world. Sometimes, it is nice to have shoes not be the first thing on your mind.
4. FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out is very real for some of us. Logging off of social media may help you get over this fear and realize that there is always going to be another party and it is not life or death if you miss one.
5. Stress relief. If you are off social media, you have no more “obligations” to respond to. “Can you believe what Casandra posted? I am so annoyed with her, there is just so much drama right now!”
“Sorry, complain to someone else about it. I’m not on Insta anymore.”
6. Social. How ironic is it that you are actually being more social by not going on social media? You know that thing you do when you walk pass someone you know, but not close enough to say hi, and you think “I feel awkward so I’m going to look down at my phone?” Well, now you have to exercise your social skills and make eye contact with them, maybe even add in a little grin.
Oh, and no more Snapchatting at dinner and more actual chatting. This may all seem scary at first, but unsurprisingly, you will find conversations to be much more fulfilling without interruptions from your phone.
7. Compare you to YOU. No more validation of your self worth based on measuring your body to an Instagram model or comparing your life to Alexis Ren’s.
8. Experience life. How many times have you gone to a concert or hiked to the top of a mountain and posted about it? But, instead of living in the moment to enjoy the music or taking in the view at the top, you were busy recording it on Snapchat so everyone could know that you went to a concert or made it to the top of the mountain.
If you live life trying to prove yourself to others, you will never experience your life to the fullest.