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Ah good ole social media... Where we can waste hours of our day with nothing to show for our time. Where misinformed adults and naive teens can rant with the confidence of scholars. Not to say nothing good has come from it, however I believe it in many ways has become the cesspool of humanity. I would challenge any person seeking self-improvement to take a two-week break from all popular forms of social media. Find another outlet to fill your spare time with.
When I first got into social media I was about 13 years old. I was homeschooled my whole life and always hated it. Social media was my window to the world. I used it to keep up with friends and stay updated on silly trends. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and the bit of light in my dissociated world. Looking back I see that negative effects of social media started almost instantly.
I saw pictures of teens out on the town having the time of their lives. This started making me feel as if I was missing out on something and in return began to make me bitter and angry. While my reaction to what I saw was my choice and I reacted poorly, the perfectly portrayed lives of those I saw on Facebook definitely had a damaging effect on me.
As absolutely ridiculous as this is, I started doing things just to make "cool" pictures. Social media really instilled a devastating sense of vanity into my young mind. I became self-absorbed but always felt like I fell short of the "standard." All of this nonsense contributed to going into a stage of depression.
Three girlfriends, two arrests, and four drug addictions later I looked at the world through different eyes. My vanity had crumbled and I looked at the world with a more open mind. I began to use social media to express myself and debate topics of interest. I found this to be a more responsible way of using social media but there were still problems that came with this use.
Debating on social media is a waste of time. Very few people can hold a factual-based argument and one of two things usually ends up happening. The argument fizzles out and nothing new is learned or the argument turns personal with a malicious undertone. Either way, I usually left the argument frustrated and no better informed than when I began.
Social media is a permanent record of your decisions. When I joined the military I had to go back through all of my posts and delete controversial pictures and rants I had made as an angry teen. Granted most jobs won't look this extensively into your past personal life, but certain posts can risk security clearance for government jobs. Old posts can also start new drama in your life.
I have a friend who we will call Danny. Danny dated a girl for a few months and posted many pictures of him and his newfound love. After four or five months the relationship sputtered out as they usually do and each went their own way. Danny moved onto a new girl and soon after was engaged. A month into the engagement Danny's fiancé stumbled on to some pictures of him and his previous girl. The two girls had a previous personal conflict that made Danny's fiancé question Danny's judgment. This planted a seed that blossomed into trust issues. The engagement fell apart and each departed broken-hearted. Now in my humble opinion, Danny's fiancé completely overreacted to his past involvement with this girl but I simply use it as an example of why sometimes the past is better left in the past. With social media our past continues to lurk in the corners of the internet and can make it difficult to move on.
There are wonderful alternatives to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Vocal has been a very productive substitute for social media. Posts I make must be punctually and grammatically correct which improve my writing skills. Post have to be over 600 words which forces me to provide a well thought through summary of my thoughts. Offering advice to others helps me in my quest of self-improvement and keeps me motivated. I understand it is much more time-consuming to post articles rather than paragraphs. However, you can save your draft at any point and continue to work on it through the day. Once finished and published you actually have something of value to show for your time.
In the end, I find social media to promote ignorance and regression. I'm not saying it can not be used in a productive manner but I think everyone should look at alternatives before deciding that is where their time is best spent.