Social Media: Slowly Tearing Us Down?

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.

5 responses to “Social Media: Slowly Tearing Us Down?

  1. Jessie Podolak says:

    Great post, Mark. The statistics are sobering, and the situation seems to be trending in a disturbing direction, especially for the youngest generation, iGen. Tim Flynn’s post last week highlighting Too Many Too Many psychiatric drugs was another example of the net result of excessive use of social media. If anyone is interested in further thoughts on the use of smartphones, mental illness and sleep deprivation among teens, here is a great article:
    Thanks for bringing up this challenging topic.

    1. Mark Shepherd says:

      Thanks for reading and sharing the article, Jessie!

  2. Ryan Grella says:

    This is a great video with Simon Sinek along the same subject lines.

    1. Mark Shepherd says:

      Thanks, Ryan. Great to have more resources about this issue.

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