While social connectivity through social media can have many benefits, such as keeping in touch with friends and family, staying informed about current events, and connecting with people who share similar interests, it can also have negative effects. In addition to mental health issues (like depression, anxiety, phone/gaming addiction, etc.), some of the ways social connectivity can be bad include:
- Social Comparison: Social media often gives a curated glimpse of people’s lives, making it easy to feel like you’re not measuring up. This unrealistic comparison can lead to feelings of insufficiency, ridicule, developing complexes, and low self-esteem.
- Decreased Productivity: Constant access to social media can be a distraction and make it difficult to focus on other tasks. This can lead to decreased productivity at work or school, making the person too immersed in and concerned about what is happening online among their friends, or stuff around the world.
- Isolation: It can also lead to social isolation if people spend too much time online and not enough time interacting with others in person.
- Lack of privacy: Social media platforms gather a lot of data on users which can be used for targeted advertising, which can make people feel uncomfortable, threatened, or worried.
- Time-consuming: Social media can be time-consuming and people may find themselves spending hours on it, which can take away from other activities and responsibilities.
Embracing the Art of Disconnecting
If you are mindful and aware of the effects of constant online connectivity and screen time, it indeed is very irksome and frustrating. It’s important to set boundaries, disconnecting, and be mindful of how much time we spend on social media and how it’s affecting our lives. Hence being aware of these potential negative effects and finding a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of online connectivity is key.
Experientially speaking, it need not be as extreme as disconnecting yourself from technology and online connectivity, as it genuinely is difficult to break out of habit and comfort. Rather, I suggest setting up a realistic goal of refraining from technology for a certain period of time which could be daily or thrice a week to focus on self and real-life events. I have found the process to be easier when I resort to mini-detox periods after work or near dinner time to immerse mindfully with family and friends. Occasional abstinence from screen time a while before bedtime will improve the speed at which you fall asleep, as well as the duration and quality of your sleep.
The Support of Family and Friends
Comparing all the methods of disconnecting I have tried in my detox, none of them has given me as many positive results as engaging and integrating with my social circles into the process of detoxing. The disconnect was more peaceful, sustainable, and practical when I asked my friends to help me with the process by making them understand that I won’t be digitally available for a while every day, making the effort to meet over the easiness and comfort of just texting or calling online, and finally asking them to reprimand me if they catch me failing in my detox.
These sound simple but it is pertinent that your friends or family realize, acknowledge, and facilitate your detox process as it plays a more important role in sustaining your routine disconnect over than starting one every now and then. It feels very assuring and comforting to detox knowing that the people important to you understand what you are doing and support you in the process. This assurance will counter the worries about missing out or failing to be there for others, which can be and is a significant stressor that pushes people to break their disconnect from the internet.
Some additional ways to Disconnect are:
1. Unfollow or unfriend people who stress you out:
It can also be a source of stress if you are following people who make you feel bad. Unfollow or unfriend these people and you’ll be less likely to get sucked into their drama.
2. Delete the apps from your phone:
If you find yourself constantly checking your social media accounts, try deleting the apps from your phone. This will make it more difficult to access your accounts and will help you to disconnect better, also keeps you away from constant notifications and the urge to check the phone. Check social media on laptops/computers rather than phones. This inconvenience may help discourage you from frequently taking the trouble to stay digitally connected.
3. Practice mindfulness:
Being present in the moment and paying sustained attention to our own feelings and thoughts without being hard on ourselves. Spend time in nature. Spending time in nature can help you to disconnect from social media and technology. Take a hike, go for a swim, or simply sit and enjoy the surroundings. Designate some fixed time in a day to get on the social media platforms. Ensure that you only use digital platforms in that specific time frame, and engage different mechanisms to help you with it.
4. Find hobbies that you enjoy:
Hobbies can be a great way to disconnect from social media. Find something that you enjoy doing such as painting, playing an instrument, or gardening, and make time for it each day. Use social media for specific purposes. Instead of using social media for entertainment or to pass the time, use it for specific purposes such as staying in touch with friends and family or staying informed about current events. This can help you to disconnect from social media when you’re not using it for these specific purposes.
Remember, disconnecting from social media is about finding a balance that works for you, and it’s okay to use it in moderation. The key is to be mindful of how much time you spend on it and to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your daily life.
It is both ideal and practical to start small and sustainable with time-outs from certain apps to systematically increase at your pace to ensure that the practice is feasible and can be consistently kept up. The process may seem difficult and is most certainly so, but disconnecting for a while consistently attunes you to yourself, others, and real-life experiences, grounding you mindfully.
Before ending this article, let me know How you plan your escape from the digital world 🙂
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