Social media has experienced immense growth in the last few years. Right from its inception in the mid-2000 until now, there has been an increase in the number of people using social media sites. Even though there are significant benefits using social media in Nigeria, there are also disadvantages of social media.
What is Social Media?
According to Livewire, Social media are web-based communication tools that enable people to interact with each other by both sharing and consuming information. A lot of businesses today use social media as a marketing strategy to promote their brands. They do this by making use of various platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, etc. to sell their products.
Social media has transformed the way we live and the way we do business. Today a lot of industries use social media as part of their marketing strategy to target the right audience and meet the needs of consumers. Social media is actually the new drug we all drink without knowing how addictive this communication channels can be.
According to New LA Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong’s statement on CNBC, where he said that social media is the cancer of our time. The growing concerns over the impact that tech staples like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have on our mental well-being is worrying. The unnatural social validation users get from the rush of a “like” or “share” ends up rewiring the brain and leads to users being hooked to their screens.
Don’t get it all wrong, social media sure has a lot of benefits to the user such as making social connections and finding useful materials for educational research. However, we cannot rule out the fact that social media can also destructive.
What are the Disadvantages of Social Media?
Social media presents us with a distorted version of reality. A lot of young people use this communication channel as a medium to escape the real world, and also to create a perfect picture of their lives. They assume all photos posted online are true reflections of people’s reality, not considering the fact that people are more likely to only post their best photos in order to attract multiple likes and approvals from others.
Young adults and children look up to celebrities and social media influencers who have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers and they aim to be just like them. Most times these celebrities portray a carefree life of beauty, luxury and happiness; which may not portray the true state of things.
Most times, the photographs posted online are false representation of real beauty, real happiness and real life. Another disadvantage of social media is the existence of “cyberbullying” which is a very sensitive topic that affects both both children and adults.
The fact that social media is an online platform makes it easy for people to bully others. This is especially challenging for teens, as bullies can target and prey on vulnerable peers without taking personal responsibility.
Cyberbullying can affect academic performance, because children who are bullied often isolate themselves at home and even in the classroom, it also affects their concentration and can ultimately disrupt their overall academic performance.
Stalking can also be a concern, as social media users sometimes post their whereabouts, and their habits can be easily traced. Social Media Anxiety Disorder is another disadvantage of social media. Social media anxiety disorder is related to social anxiety, a mental illness which happens when social media affects the mental and physical health of a person, causing one to feel inadequate, jealous, incompetent and unsatisfied.
Definitely, seeing a certain standard on social media can make anyone uneasy. On social media, people post the best version of themselves. If you compare that to yourself, you are comparing it to your whole self- flaws, fears and all.
Lastly, the major detriment of social media is “materialism”. Research conducted in Nigeria, and in other countries has shown that material things do not convert to happiness or satisfaction. The more we see things, the more we want them. In fact, people with more material goods were found to be less happy. There will always be someone with something we need or someone that we consider valuable based on their possessions. However, we should not get jealous or feel dissatisfied with what we have. because of social media display of materialism.
Now you might ask what is materialism? According to definition by Richins and Dawson (1992); materialism can be defined as the tendency for an Individual to think that their existence is based off on material possession. It can be broken down into two parts as follows; using possessions to judge the accomplishments of others & oneself and the believe that their properties and assets lead to happiness and satisfaction.
Nevertheless, Social media makes it hard to stay grounded. Social media is among the leading cause of materialism among youths and parents. Not only does the advertising that we see on a daily basis play a role, most people now equate self-worth and human value according to physical show of wealth.
Many youths prefer to be on the fast lane, focusing on instant gratification with little or no interest in long suffering or perseverance. They want to drive the exotic cars, wear clothes & accessories made by popular luxury brands and travel across the globe exploring fantasy islands etc. Social media has made it even more complex, as people are exposed to unlimited images of luxury lifestyles that ends up putting them under undue pressure. Most people spend time comparing themselves to their friends and colleagues based on pictures posted on social media.
Young girls spend so much money on clothes they do not really need; they have completed accepted makeup, beauty and fashion as a way of showcasing their worth to the world. This is mostly as a result of what they see on the social media handles of lifestyle bloggers, celebrities and friends.
How then do we know when we need to take a break from Social Media?
Sometimes we do not even know we have become addicted to social media. It will only require a break from social media platforms, before you realize how dependent one has become. However if you find yourselves in any of these situations, then you might need to take a break from social media.
- You check your phone first thing in the morning or anytime you wake up
Of course, we all want to keep up with what we have missed when we wake up. Nevertheless, checking social media the moment your eyes open before you even register the time of the day, then you may have crossed the line. Some people cannot go to bed without checking Instagram or Facebook, this is not normal and it has become an obsession. If you find that you check your phone during the night when you wake up, then you definitely need to take some time off social media.
2. You are always on your phone even when out with your friends and family.
We have all gotten so accustomed to social media that we cannot go a second without checking for updates even when we are out with loved ones. If you find yourself instagramming long enough that you can hardly pay attention to the conversation on the table, then you might need to take a break. To remedy this, next time you are out with your loved ones, implement a rule where all phones go in the centre of the table and the first one to touch theirs pays for the meal.
3. You have fear of missing out
Do you compare yourself to the images you see on social media? If you find that you are constantly trying to keep up with the lifestyle of friends in the online community, then you might need to re-evaluate your expectations.
Not everyone has to have fun 24/7, even though the garage of photos and updates you see in the online space makes it seem that way. Social media can be a blessing and a curse. If it is leaving you feeling stressed, sad or anxious, then give yourself a break and take a social media vacation.
4. You always need to recharge your phone battery
This is mainly applicable when the phone is relatively new and its battery life still in intact. New phones are suppose to have a battery life that should last through the day. Nonetheless, if you observe that your new phone only last half the day because of excessive time spent on social media, binging on funny videos and scrolling through status updates of everyone within your circle, including celebrity updates; then you definitely need to take a break off social media or at least consider preserving your battery life
.5. Screen time distracts you during family bonding
Are you constantly on your phone, even during play time with the children? If at every minute you are checking your phone for updates, instead of spending quality time with your family, then you need a break from social media because such actions can eventually lead to a disconnect from family.
Back in the day when we did not have the world wide webs in the palms of our hands, our parents found entertaining ways to bond with the family. This helped to bring a sense of communal bonding and relationship.
6. You get separation anxiety when you are not with your phone
Can you leave your phone at home without having a panic attack? I bet many will have a total meltdown. “Nomophobia” is a condition that affects 60 percent of phone users. It means you have an anxiety of being separated from your phone. This condition only occurs when we are completely dependent on our smartphones.
If you regularly check your phone when it does not ring, if you are nervous when you cannot find your phone; then it probably means you have separation anxiety. Try to avoid creating an unusual bond with your smartphone.
7. You have not read a book in a long while
Previously, parents set reading targets such as “two books per week” for their children and they were grounded from all forms of outdoor play activities if they were unable to meet these targets. However, social media is now the order of the day, taking over precious time that would have been allocated to reading. Many adults currently find it hard to read books, therefore it will be harder for them to motivate the young ones to read.
Life is better with books. However, it is hard to read something useful when every spare second is devoted to social media. Take a break from social media and pick up a book to read today.
8. You never complete your task
One step at a time is the best advice for accomplishing anything. But our current world pleads for a caveat: one uninterrupted step at a time. Social media competes for your focus and swamps your ability to power through work. If you find yourself struggling to complete your task for the day due to distractions from using your phone; then it is time for you to take a break.
9. You feel the need to upload pictures every time
Do you feel the urge to upload pictures at every given opportunity? Are you always seeking approval from the online community? If you find yourself in both situations then you might be addicted to social media.
Yes! we understand that some Individuals have to upload pictures every day on social media for business reasons and that is acceptable. Nonetheless, if you feel you have to compete just to keep up appearance, then you need to relax from social media.
Now that we have listed nine reasons why you might need to take a break from social media; it is important to note that the disadvantages of social media are not surprising. Many of these celebrities have gone through a total meltdown due to online cyberbullying and a feeling of total disapproval from people on social media; because celebrities are humans too and are in search of societal approval. Social media can sometimes bring about long-lasting emotional pain, which may ultimately lead to depression.
Above all, we should always remember that there is a physical world out there waiting to connect with one another, therefore we must all be bold enough to put our phones aside and explore.