It seems that for as many articles online entitled something like “11 Ways the Internet is Making Humans Smarter” there are others called “17 Reasons Why You Need a Break from Social Media.” As the number of social media platforms increases and the content on these sites grows daily, anyone can tell that social media consumption is increasing. The demand for social media is high, so writers and developers meet that need hourly, providing an overwhelming amount of entertainment, opinions, and news.
One opinion writer for the Guardian writes, “I noticed that Twitter, Facebook and other digital forms of communication fed and nurtured my very real anxiety until it consumed me. Whenever I turned to the internet for a distraction, and even a possible sense of reassurance, I was instead sent reeling to the worst corner of my psyche. Only when I consciously stepped away from the screen, did I regain some sense of calm and perspective.”
Seeing everyone else’s highlight reel on loop can distort reality and, if not combatted with the truth, can cause feelings of insecurity, ungratefulness, and envy. Our “likes” may actually resemble a disliking of our own lives in comparison to others’. We crave beauty and peace but look for it in well-edited photos of peaceful scenery, flawless wedding videos, and lifestyle bloggers’ perfectly clean kitchens. None of these subjects are bad of course, but to see them as our ideal is simply unrealistic. We don’t recognize that these images come from models, photo editors, and paid advertisers. They aren’t real. The messiness of our everyday lives are likely more real, life-giving, and beautiful than we realize.
Stepping away from the screen granted calm and perspective. Perhaps our generation has hit its breaking point with social media, realizing that aspiring to aesthetic perfection is not only improbable, but unsatisfying. Even some people at the top of the world have stepped away from social media for some fresh perspective. Ed Sheeran posted this text on Instagram last year:
“Hello all. I am taking a break from my phone, emails, and social media for awhile. I’ve had such an amazing ride over the last 5 years, but I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes so I’m taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything to travel the world and see everything I missed.”