We all know that too much social media is deeply unhealthy. Yet its addictive entertainment keeps so many of us ensnared in daily use—so much so that it has brought about the death of personal life.
In our modern culture, it is common and even encouraged to put personal experiences, updates, opinions, and even emotional breakdowns onto public platforms for anyone to see. But is this really how we should be treating our personal lives? What do we lose when we share so much of ourselves online? And what do we gain when we don’t?
Before we begin, it’s worth highlighting the difference between using social media in a professional or public platform, such as here on Intellectual Takeout as a media outlet, or for business, church, or charity. These professional platforms perform like an online bulletin board for a specific building or community group. Such situations are different than the wide use of personal accounts, where each individual has the option to bare as much of his body, mind, and soul online as he chooses.
Privacy Beats Performing
Our lives are not meant to be public performances. This holds true for most everyone’s mental and emotional well-being. It’s natural to have private thoughts, feelings, and experiences that we can share when and with whom we intentionally choose. When we constantly put all those things online—in pictures, posts, comments, and feeds—we betray this design.
Social media is truly public, as anyone—from friends and family to journalists, politicians, exes, hackers, and sex offenders—can access what we put online. Anyone with Wi-Fi can find our photos, posts, and information.
Protecting our personal lives offers true privacy, simply because we can control who knows what about our inner selves. This is far more empowering than amateur fame, and it’s well worth protecting.
Real Beats Digital
By digital I mean anything with a screen or a feed: TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, CNN, Patreon, and others. By real I mean the menial activities of life: doing dishes, staring out the window, listening to the wind, reading a book, playing peekaboo with the baby, weeding the garden, making a meal, or getting bored while waiting in line.
The real world is made of the many quiet, dull moments in which we usually turn to our phones. This is exactly how social media algorithms are designed: to grab our attention whenever it’s free and interrupt our thoughts when we are trying to focus on something else.
Replacing dull moments with social media and endless scrolling has become so commonplace that few people stop to ask what they’ve traded in. Those dull moments offer silence, respite, and presence in our actual, real lives. Virtual life cannot offer us such real experiences—no matter how it feels.
Contentment Beats Comparison
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” the old saying goes. While contentment is essential to joy, social media is a breeding ground for comparison traps. Comparing our everyday lives to others’ highlight reels, commercials, product ads, and virtual advice makes us feel inadequate and pushes us further into the virtual world to mimic the current trend.
The internet is full of ideas on how to combat comparison, boost your own self-image, and keep perspective while online. Some of the advice isn’t bad. But often, the simplest solution—restricting our social media use—is the truest. Social media itself is usually the root of comparison problems, not how we “self-love” while using it. If we’re not on it, we won’t have online comparison issues. Simple as that.
Inaccessible Beats Infatuated
Social media demands that we hand out free samples of ourselves. Anyone who comes along can comment, disapprove, approve, or push any opinions about us with a mere click. This vast sticker-chart system is designed to pull us further into the virtual world. The more we share, the more we care. Social media infatuates the user into addiction.
On the flip side, being inaccessible online instantly gives us power—power over ourselves, our consumption, and our privacy. Guarding the door to our minds and hearts gives us space to build our real lives in the physical world. We will not do things for the sake of posting them, and we won’t worry about our “content” (a clever phrase for selling ourselves for popularity). Being separated from the internet will make us much cooler people. I guarantee it.
I speak from experience when I say it might be valuable to ditch social media entirely. I didn’t have any social media until I was in my mid-20s, and I joined a few things during the widespread COVID lockdowns. This was mostly out of loneliness, boredom, and an effort to stay connected to wider friend groups. It didn’t take me more than a couple weeks to see the addictiveness of posting and scrolling. The reward system began to affect my self-esteem, productivity, and relationships in the real world. I soon deleted everything again and decided once and for all to keep my personal life personal. And my life truly thrived.
How many of us would see similar results if we simply deleted—or limited—our personal social media?
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