Social network sites are unarguably an inseparable part of our lives now.
Some people indeed choose not to use them, but there are huge benefits of using one. However, the social medias come as double-edged sword. If you’re using it not wise enough, it may actually ended up hurting yourself.
Of course, there are a lot of ways to use social medias wisely and more beneficially, but for now, I’ll keep it to four aspects that I see are problematic these days.
1. Don’t Use It as a Den of Comparison
Social medias like Facebook encourages its users to share news about themselves. However, these news are published by the users themselves, not by an all-knowing third-person narrator. The users choose which news they want to publish and which one they do not.
Because of that, people have a bias toward positive happenings in their lives, and avoid to mention the problems and waves they are going through. You will more likely see posts about their new cars, gadgets, or their holiday trips or achievements than depressing stories about the problems they might be having — solved or not (Well, we do see some people also use Facebook for ranting, but these kind of people post everything anyways, including the good news). This creates a den of comparison and competition.
Your focus will shift from trying to be the best you can to try and one-up your friends. Furthermore, since you only see the great parts about your friends’ lives, you will think lowly about your own happiness. If you fail, then it’s sad. If you succeed, it’s only normal.
Comparing ourselves to others is a key driver of unhappiness. Tom DeLong, author of Flying Without a Net, even describes a “Comparing Trap.” He writes, “No matter how successful we are and how many goals we achieve, this trap causes us to recalibrate our accomplishments and reset the bar for how we define success.” And as we judge the entirety of our own lives against the top 1% of our friends’ lives, we’re setting impossible standards for ourselves, making us more miserable than ever.
2. Stay Tuned to Reality
Face it — You don’t need to check your Facebook or Twitter every five minutes, no? The habit of checking social medias too often can make you detached from reality. Take your time of commuting for commuting, not to check social medias while you walk. The same applies to activities like eating or waiting (unless if you’re going to wait for a long period with nothing else to do).
Leaving the risk of real physical harm aside, the issue with this constant “tabbing” between real-life tasks and Facebook is what economists and psychologists call “switching costs,” the loss in productivity associated with changing from one task to another. Famed author Dr. Srikumar Rao attributes mindfulness over multitasking as one of his ten steps to happiness at work. He argues that constant distractions lead to late and poor-quality output, negatively impacting our sense of self-worth.
Enjoy the scenery during your commute, take a look at people, talk with people; these small things are what make life more colorful and less boring.
3. Take it Easy, The World’s not Going to End the Next Hour
This is still related to the second point. Social medias tend to drive the want of immediate gratification inside the users’ minds. As a result, when you post something, you want to see the “Likes” and comments it may get immediately, prompting you to check back every five minutes or so; or worse, can trigger a cognitive dissonance in the first few minutes (because you think it will get positive feedbacks but it don’t – in the first few minutes) and cause you unhappiness.
So, just take it easy. Maybe you post it during a low-traffic time, or maybe your friends aren’t online at the time. You don’t need to check back your post every five minutes to see if there’s a new “Like.”
4. Use Social Networks Safely
Don’t give your personal information to people you don’t trust (Yes, that includes strangers). Don’t give confidential information such as your credit card number, your password, etc. Don’t post things you don’t want people to know, for example like “OMG my teacher sucks ass” while a fellow teacher is in your friend list (Yes, you can adjust the visibility settings, but this is just an example).
Don’t post things that can put you in danger as well, like “I’m home alone now,” “Nobody’s home,” etc. There are real cases that some people take advantage of these situations to commit crime – you don’t want one.
Do you have any advices of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments, and if I see an enough number interesting or good ones, I might make another post about this in the future 😀
Have a good day!