This wasn’t supposed to be a post, or it certainly wasn’t one that I had planned, but in light of recent events and some personal engagements on Twitter I decided it might work.
I am going to try and keep this as short and sweet as possible, I promise, but I absolutely wanted to give you five good reasons why you should log out of your social media accounts for a while.
1. Fake news
Whilst this might not be the most important reason, it certainly has a dramatic impact on many people. Although fake news has been around since the beginning of time, small scale gossip is not quite the same as world-wide social media fake news. Over the last year, throughout the COVID19 pandemic, I have seen the most ridiculous cases of misinformation, fake news, gossip and other nonsense. Haven’t you?
This causes panic and can quickly increase anxiety, depression and other symptoms in people, especially amongst those already suffering. It can also be detrimental to our health. Take Trump, for example: Can we ingest disinfectant to cure COVID? The worst part is that some people tried it!
Some other stories from this year include:
COVID is just the flu
You can’t catch it from children
See lots more COVID myths here!
Yup, that’s right. In 2020, bullies are an increasing problem amongst children, teens and adults. I honestly can’t believe it, yet I’m also not surprised. The rise of social media has contributed to this as people are continuously fighting for the most likes, the trendiest outfit, the best looking friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and so on. Despite its many benefits, social media has sparked a rise in depression, anxiety, jealousy and other negative emotions. (Sources here: ChildMind.org and NCHR)
Bullies are able to hide behind screens more than ever through fake profiles and email accounts, spreading rumours, lies and embarrassing information about a person in order to hurt someone. Why? That, I just don’t know.
Unfortunately, adults are not much better at times.
I have seen numerous people delete their account after being bullied online. This has happened in the form of abusive messages (public and private), posting personal information online, sending screenshots to bosses and creating rumours.
It seems as though adult to adult bullying is prevalent within our societies and I have found these links that may be useful to anyone who is being bullied, or knows someone who is:
Another worrying thing is that much of what I have seen has happened amongst teachers. If teachers* cannot lead the way for our younger generations, how can we expect them to behave any better?
I found a worrying, yet supportive, article here on We Are Teachers with links to many other great articles.
*I realise that the majority of teachers are superheroes who give their lives to teach and support children, but of all people in the world I would not expect teachers to be bullies
- Time wasting
Do any of you have apps or a log on your phone that tells you how much time you spend online? If you do, how do you feel about it? If you don’t, why not?
I had never thought of downloading one of these apps until I taught a group of students one summer. One of our units was on technology and social media, and as I don’t believe technology units are ever up-to-date I try to create my own materials. I always encourage my students to think about why they’re online and what they could do instead of scrolling through social media.
A couple of my students and I downloaded an app (I don’t remember the name of it) and we were all fairly shocked to find out what our average usage was per week. On a Monday, we predicted what our daily usage would be. Many said around 4 hours a day, but we were all surprised by the truth when we checked again the following Monday.
Instead of posting, scrolling and liking all day, what else could you be doing?
Why not have a think about it? Write down 5 things you could spend an hour doing instead of staring at your screen. I’ll start.
Do some housework
Tidy up old things
Water / take care of my plants
So… let’s do it! Surely those five things are far more beneficial to your health than being glued to your phone, aren’t they?
- Protect your mental health
As I’ve already mentioned under bullies, being on social media has been proven to impact our mental health. And no, not just for our younger generations. For all of us.
Fake news scares us.
Bullies hurt and upset us.
Social media shows us what we can’t have, how successful others are, the hurt, pain and death going on in the world. It shows us things that can stir up emotions we may not feel so deeply otherwise (Centre for Mental Health). This is a problem for many teens and adults around the world, and with the filters and fake news it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier.
What I often wonder is why would we knowingly want to risk our mental health? We should be protecting it and doing everything we can to keep it healthy and positive. However, I know very well that it just isn’t that easy. So if we can’t avoid social media, can we at least try to log off every now and then?
Stop scrolling through the trending section of Twitter, get away from #COVIDIOTS and block those that upset you. Stop filtering your photos with VS001 or Snapchat’s dog ears. You don’t need to. Social media has turned us into competitors when instead of wishing you also had Karen’s latest handbag (sorry, Karen!) or Mike’s latest iPad Air (sorry, Mike!) we should just enjoy connecting with friends and family without focusing on anyone else, shouldn’t we?
There’s a great article here about how social media changes the way we think and behave, and how we can act accordingly.
- Appreciate what you have
By spending hours online each day you are taking away your time and attention from things that matter. Whether this is your family, your pets, your plants or just your own mental health.
Are you able to appreciate what your partner does for you if you haven’t even noticed they’ve done it? Do you walk your dog every evening or play with the… hamsters? What about taking a bath – or is it suddenly too late because you spend ages on Instagram? I know, I’ve been there. It’s suddenly 11pm and it’s too late to dry your hair in case the neighbour complains, or you’ve forgotten to wash up the dishes.
Logging off is the best way to appreciate the little things around you. Whether it’s people, a good book or a nice glass of wine. Social media wants your attention. It’s designed to steal you away, but that doesn’t mean you have to give in, right?
Okay, here’s a little ramble.
For me personally, this has to be the most important reason to log off. I am 100% guilty of spending far too much time online. Yes, I work online. Yes, I blog a lot. Yes, because all of my teaching is online I have to prepare my work online (Google Docs, Slides, Kahoot!, etc) but once all of that is done, I still spend too much time on social media.
I find myself scared, unhappy and grouchy after spending time online. I find the news beyond depressing. COVID, protests, Trump, Boris, people dying and so on. It’s just awful and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. So instead of just logging off, I seem to keep looking. I don’t know if I’m looking for a glimmer of hope, or someone who feels the same way. I don’t know.
I’m scrolling through Instagram to ‘live through’ people in Asia who are currently unaffected by COVID because their governments got it right the first and second time. I’m living for the beach, the shopping trips, the days out with my family that I know I can’t have right now.
So I can understand why we do it, especially at the moment, but it is soul-destroying.