We are slaves to social media. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. These are less than handful of the ones that exhaust our data on cell phones and tablets. Every like of a post gives us a little dopamine push in our brain. Every post we find distasteful raises our blood pressure and adrenaline. It’s become our drug of choice for many.
I’ve been in bars where 20-somethings are sitting together heads buried in their phones, no connection to the person in front of them. I’ve seen parents at family restaurants tapping and scrolling while their child wanders away from the table, no longer interested in their chicken strips and frustrated the parent is not paying attention to their needs.
What researchers see happening is not only are we drawn more intensely to our phones than personal relationships, we are also feeling the pain of the world around us. The result is increased depression, anxiety, and even PTSD as we are inundated with horrific videos and stories near and far. We can’t seem to escape it.
The result seems to be we are the most addicted, self-harming, egocentric, depressed, anxious, medicated, eating disordered, and fragile cohort in American history.
The answer is not to become a Luddite and avoid the technological world. Our phones are like a hammer. We can use it to build a house from a pile of wood and nails, or we can use it to bash someone’s head in. The phone and social media are not the problem, it’s how we use them. We must find balance and pay attention to our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives.
Sometimes, a break from social media is needed. And sometimes we need help figuring out who we are, what we want, and what we need all over again. That’s okay. Just do it by experiencing life for real, not vicariously through a tiny screen in your hand.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS - Founder and CEO at Embrace Counseling Services. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 1-877-651-1841. We are here to help.