By Dori Hackleman

If you are like me, sometimes you get caught up in Facebook and end up losing a good chunk of time just scrolling through all the BS.

While some posts can be nice to see, oftentimes it’s garbage articles that suck you down a blackhole. We become so attached to the idea of social media when we know it does nothing for us. In most cases, it makes our mental health even worse and we don’t even realize it.

According the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 30 percent of those who use social media spend more than 15 hours per week online. Just think about that. Fifteen hours? We spend 15 hours a week looking at our phones instead of just enjoying our surroundings and our company. According to the experts, almost 20 percent of people who use social media cannot go more than three hours without checking their accounts, and I, unfortunately, am guilty of this. I have experienced loneliness and depression triggered by social media. I thought I was crazy for trying link the two, but after some research, I was relieved to find I was right.

I’m a professional photographer and took a break from photography for awhile because I was tired of feeling attached to social media.

I was at the mercy of posting my work all the time because I was getting the majority of my clients from Facebook. If I don’t post my work often enough, then how will anyone see it since it is my portfolio of work? My work suffered because of the pressure I was putting on myself and always feeling like I wasn’t good enough. On top of posting all the time, I was comparing my work to other people’s stuff and it was toxic. That is when I realized that social media can be toxic and needlessly fill your head with negativity. So I decided to deactivate my account for a couple weeks, and it was the best decision that I ever made. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I could breathe again. My mind got clearer, I felt more focused, and my depression and self doubt got much better. This wasn’t a fix-all by any means, but it definitely helped me gain a new perspective on what I wanted for my photography business going forward.

The studies and research are still very new but here is what we do know:

1. Social media can lower self esteem. When you are always comparing yourself to others online who seem to have their shit together, and you can start to doubt if you have yours together enough. What you don’t realize is that most people only post about their happy times.

2. There is a lack of human connection. Sure, we are connecting with people online, but that is different than actually seeing people face to face and that leaves you with a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). You see a group of people enjoying themselves, maybe even friends, and you wonder why you weren’t invited or wish you could hang out with them, but are unsure of how to approach it.

3. False memories. Looking back at memories is nice, but sometimes social media can mess with how you remember a certain event. There are definitely things that you want to take photos/video of and remember forever, but maybe posting it to social media every single time isn’t necessary. It’s also possible we become too wrapped up with capturing the moment for social media rather than simply enjoying the moment for what it is.

4. Being on social media and our phones all the time can really mess with our sleep. We have all heard about screen time, but the other thing we didn’t consider is if we’re making our brain work overtime by feeling envy or anxiety while browsing before bed.

5. Addicting entertainment. Social media has given us access to quick entertainment, and it’s hard to refuse the temptation to look at our phones when we have nothing else going on. It creates an addiction.

6. It makes our mental health so much worse. In March 2018, it was reported that more than one-third from a survey of 1,000 Generation Z individuals stated that they were quitting social media for good, as 41 percent stated that social media platforms make them feel anxious, sad, or depressed.

7. We are always seeking constant validation for how we are feeling. When we feel alone we post about it in hopes that someone else will feel the same way. Constantly seeking validation from outside sources can be detrimental to our self esteem.

Maybe look at yourself to see if you are addicted to social media and then check on your mental health. Maybe there is a connection. Consider logging off or even deactivating your accounts for awhile and enjoy living in the moment. It certainly worked for me.

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