We live in a society driven by media obsession, where 1.28 billion people post their lives on Facebook on a regular basis and send about 500 million tweets per day. We are on the brink of social media overload.
But how can you tell when your social media “narcissism” have gone too far and is time to sign off for a bit?
According to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D., technology expert and author of The Distraction Addiction, the most common signs that you should take a “social media leave of absence” are the following:
You panic when you don’t have access to your phone.
Do you refresh your Facebook timeline at traffic lights or while talking to your friends at the table? Do you check your Twitter feed as soon as you wake up? How many real-life conversations have you missed out on because you were too wrapped up in your phone? “The more time you spend liking, the less likable your own world ends up becoming,” Pang told the Health.com.
You know way too much about your ‘friends.’
Becoming compulsive about knowing the statuses of your social media connections is a big warning sign. So if you readily know that the random guy you once met at a party just bought a new car, and you’ve already stalked his wife’s Facebook profile, you may want to reevaluate how much time you’re spending online. “The irony of social media is that while it can be great for keeping up with the details of our friend’s lives, too much engagement can obscure the big picture and weaken our ability to make sense of our own lives,” Pang added.
You make elaborate projects just to show your ‘friends’ how crafty you are
Did you spend extra time making a complicated, picture-perfect recipe just to show off your ‘skills’ on Instagram or Facebook? If you have, you may be ready for a break. “When you start crafting your life to be more Twitter- or Facebook-friendly, it’s time to step back. Thinking about where you’ll go or what you’ll do with an eye to how it will appear on social media undermines your ability to be yourself,” Pang says.
You can’t do anything without tweeting about it.
Feeling the need to report your life in real-time is a sign that social media is taking over your life. So, if you can’t help but share every single detail of her life on social media, you need to stop. “There are only 24 hours in a day, and the more time we spend sharing with our friends what we’re doing hour-by-hour, the less time we have to discover for ourselves why we enjoy these activities and what our days are adding up to mean,” Pang explains.
You can’t keep up with your ‘successful/happy/thriving’ friends.
Reading about your friends’ promotions, engagements, and extravagant vacations can quickly lead to feelings of envy. Whether you realize it or not, spending too much time on social media can cause feelings of negative body image among women, increase anxiety, and even lead to damaged friendships and relationships. “When keeping up with your friends’ lives gets in the way of you happily leading your own life, you need a break,” says Pang.
How to take a brake from social media overload.
“Start by Challenge yourself to abstaining from social media for a full week,” Pang suggests. Set aside a specific time every day for catching up on social media. And when you do post status updates, limit yourself to only discussing life stories, instead of off-the-cuff thoughts or irrelevant snapshots of your food or your dog –– no matter how cute he may be.
“Does your life get better or worse? You may find that you feel perfectly satisfied without social media in your life,” says Pang.