Social media is a term that I feel is mentioned at least once daily in our everyday conversations. All of us now-a-days seem to be present on some platform whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or beyond. Most people probably relate social media to more personal relationships/interactions, however a recent JOSPT Viewpoint article shined light on the benefits and threats of social media within the PT profession.
I think all of us can attest to the joys or positives of social media, however over the past year I have taken a step back and really reflected on my own use. After listening to the audiobook Deep Work by Cal Newport, I realized that I was getting sucked into the black hole of endless social media use. I seemed to pull out the phone to check one of the platforms I am on and realized that there was not a time where I seemed to just stand and think – be present with myself.
So, this past year I started to limit my use of social media and this took a lot of will power. I can see why there are some headlines out there that state that social media use is similar to cocaine. My original thoughts on this voyage was that I would suffer from FOMO. The intense pull of wanting to look at my accounts was challenging at times, but I found the need to look less and less. I can truly say that my minimal use now has created a more happy self.
I bring this topic forward not because I think social media is terrible, but because I see changes in the way society is starting to interact with each other. I can’t help but see families out to eat together at a restaurant all on their phones barely saying two words to each other. I can’t help but acknowledge the growing rates of teen suicide, depression and anxiety that have been shown to be linked to the amount of time you are on social media. I can’t help but realize how many of my patients who are in pain navigating the social media day in – day out, comparing their lives to others. Where will this take us?
We are social beings – it is engrained in our design to survive. However, it becomes easy to socially compare, often times via upward social comparison that leaves people more defeated than inspired. There is a place for social media in this world, but I believe we all need to take a strong look at how often and how long we are engaging with these platforms. We must also ask our patients how social media may be playing into their overall well-being. I can only hope that in 10 years social media helps us become more positive – unfortunately right now, I feel as though it is tearing us down.