Benefits: Gain an awareness of the power, limitations, and potential of social media.
So That You Can: Use social media as a tool to challenge your limiting beliefs and better yourself, getting you one step closer to realizing your full potential.
DON’T LEAVE THIS POST without some actionable steps. Download our FREE printable worksheet here. We also offer a convenient fillable worksheet.
There is a silent killer beside you right now. You probably take it with you everywhere you go. Many people sleep with it, eat with it, work with it, drive with it, and, yes, a lot of people even take it to the bathroom with them!
This silent killer snuck up on us, and most of us were not given the tools needed to keep it at bay. That was by design. You see, the mission of this silent killer is to test our willpower, steal our attention, and pimp it out to the highest bidder. And all of this is done without us even being aware of it.
Although its mission is not to kill our potential, that’s exactly what it does. How?
- It kills our self-esteem and joy by showing us that everyone is living their dream life, except us.
- It encourages us to be envious rather than grateful.
- It promotes division rather than connection.
- It keeps us complacent by thinking for us, so we don’t have to make any intentional decision.
Have you figured out what it is yet? This silent killer goes by many names, but it is commonly referred to as . . . social media. Gasp! I know; it’s frightening isn’t it?
We're Not as Frightened as We Should Be
It is easier to manipulate, control, and divide people than it has been at any other time in history. Algorithms can efficiently make decisions for us and influence our choices — from the music we listen to, to which presidential candidate we vote for. Does that scare you a little bit?
We don’t need to be scared. We just need to wake up and take our power back!
We need to remind ourselves that social media is a powerful tool that we can use to better ourselves and the world. We have the capability to create the life we want at our fingertips, a privilege that no previous civilization has had. Sadly, we squander it away by watching and coveting other people’s lives, rather than living our own.
Why? Because we’ve been handed a highly addictive substance, free of warning labels, guidelines, and limits.
Yes, There's a Good Chance You're Addicted to Social Media
If I had to claim an addiction, it would be YouTube videos closely followed by Google searches. I am compelled to learn as much as I can about everything. So, of course, I went to Google to find statistics on social media addiction. ? That’s how I stumbled upon Northpoint Washington’s website.
Northpoint Washington is a treatment center for drug and alcohol addictions, but they also offer treatment programs for social media addictions. So, yeah, I’d say there’s a good chance that you or someone in your daily life is addicted to social media if it’s become pervasive enough for an addiction center to develop a program for it.
The Northpoint website defines social media addiction as:
“It is characterized by two behaviors. People feel an ever-increasing need to engage with it, and they feel bad when they don’t get enough. When social media use begins to interfere with other activities, it is considered an addiction.”
Still Shaking Your Head? Keep Reading
If you try to tell me that either you or someone you are close to isn’t affected by this addiction, I’m going to shake my head right back at you . Especially in light of some of the other statistics I found:
- A 2019 survey conducted by Common Sense Media found that 26% of parents and 36% of teens wake up to check a mobile device at least once during the night.
- The same survey found that 23% of parents and 32% of teens use a mobile device within 5 minutes of waking up.
- If texting while driving weren’t bad enough, according to an annual State Farm survey, 26% of drivers acknowledge using the internet while driving, and 20% say they read social media posts while driving. (These are the most reliable statistics I could find and are from 2014. I’ve seen statistics as high as 45%.)
- People can’t even go to the bathroom without social media! A 2018 survey conducted by BankMyCell found that 54% of Americans admit to using social media apps while on the toilet, and 75% of Americans admit to using their phones.
Whoa, let’s stop right there! If you can’t go to the bathroom without getting on social media, I think that’s a pretty big clue that you have a problem. I know, people have been reading books, magazines, etc. while on the pot for as long as there have been indoor toilets, but books and magazines aren’t connected to the outside world.
That’s the key difference. If you can’t disconnect for 15 minutes, you probably need to get really honest with yourself about your relationship with social media.
Northpoint Washington has compiled a list of questions to test your social media addiction. It might be worth a minute of your time to pop over there to check it out. There is a link at the end of this post.
Time to Bring It Home
Okay, Amanda, I get it. I’m on social media more than I should be. I already know that! After all, I am on the internet all the time so I have seen the bajillion posts warning me about the evils of social media. You’re just re-hashing what I already know.
Maybe, but let’s connect what we just discussed to what we’ve been covering so far in our journey with The Expectation Gaps. Let’s look at the effects untethered use of social media can have on the lessons we have learned so far.
Division, Dehumanization, Democrats...Oh My!
In our first two content series, we discussed how divided our country has become, especially in regard to our political opinions. We learned about the effects of dehumanizing messages. And, we discovered that it is in our best interest to maintain a good balance of conservative and liberal characteristics.
Pair these ideas with the fact that social media algorithms are designed to feed us content that is deemed relevant to us. Meaning:
- Our opinions, good or bad, will be validated over and over again.
- We will see an assortment of funny, yet dehumanizing, memes and messages targeted at people we disagree with.
- There will be little to no conservative/liberal balance in our feed.
If we don’t use social media in an intentional way, our divisions, dehumanizing actions, and ideologies will certainly be exacerbated. We will continue to condemn others and focus on what they need to change about themselves. Every time we shift our focus away from improving ourselves and making changes in our own lives, our potential loses a little bit of its energy.
Safety and Other Illusions
In our second content series, we discussed our instinctual need to be part of a group and how this desire can lead us away from our values. We also learned that we tend to put our lives on hold in order to maintain a certain level of emotional safety.
Pair these ideas with the fact that many people are so tied to their social media feeds and the dopamine fix they get from each notification, that they can’t go 10 minutes without checking in. This is a clear signal that these people feel lost.
But what are they really searching for?
Are they finding any of these things on social media? Not likely. When we constantly compare our lives to others’, we are more likely to make choices based on society’s expectations of us. Our desires to be accepted by a group and find belonging take over.
How are we supposed to look? Where are we supposed to go on vacation? What is our family supposed to look like? How should we decorate our house?
What we are doing, essentially, is putting our lives on hold to create a picture-perfect persona. Then we hold our breath, waiting to be validated by people we probably don’t even care about. This will leave us hard-pressed to find love and meaningful connections because almost everyone we are measuring ourselves against is searching for the same things.
However, we are only being shown the “good” stuff; our “friends” won’t show themselves being vulnerable. So we come to believe that we are the only ones who are suffering, which only creates more and more suffering. This suffering will cast its shadow on our potential.
Can I Borrow Your "Why"?
In our third content series, we discussed the importance of defining our “why.”
In order to define our why, we first have to face what we fear the most, ourselves — our true, authentic selves. We need to sit quietly, with no distractions, no outside influences, and listen to our gut/spirit/intuition, whatever you want to call it. How can we possibly do this if we are giving audience to the notifications on our phone every minute of the day?
Plus, in the social media world, we have done our best to hide our true, authentic self, haven’t we? And hasn’t everyone else? We use filters, we get the best angles, we only show the fun stuff we do, and our feeds have become littered with humble brags.
Defining our why is going to be so much harder if our lens is constantly being shaped by what everyone else is doing; what everyone else sees as important; how everyone else defines success. And without a clearly defined why, our potential will continue to wither away.
We Need to Flush the Toilet
In our third content series, we also learned about the importance of taking care of our bodies, which includes getting enough sleep. (If you don’t know why I’m talking about flushing a toilet, check that post out.)
Let’s look at this statistic again, 26% of parents and 36% of teens wake up to check a mobile device at least once during the night. Sometimes they are woken by notifications; sometimes just the impulse to check their phones.
The same survey found that 61% of parents and 70% of teens check their devices within the 30 minutes before they fall asleep. Meanwhile, studies have shown that using our devices during the last hour before we go to bed messes with our sleep patterns.
The point is, we need to be well rested for our brains to function effectively. We need our brains to function effectively so they can guide us toward our potential. According to this survey, a majority of Americans are sacrificing this basic need to feed their addiction. And they’re what . . . killing their potential!
Is God on Facebook, or Is He More of an Instagram Guy?
In our fourth content series, we discussed opening our hearts to God as a step toward realizing our full potential. You may remember that I define God as a power greater than us that connects us all. This power is love. It is my belief that no matter what religion you practice, if you believe in showing love and compassion to one another, you believe in God.
Generally speaking, social media promotes and fosters superficial connections. The average number of “friends” people follow on Facebook varies but is definitely over 300. Wow! That feels really good, for about a second. Until you realize that you aren’t taking any time to actually bond with these “friends” who you are giving so much time and attention to.
There’s nothing wrong with having some superficial relationships, but we run the risk of suffocating our potential if we start putting them ahead of our real-life relationships.
The Silencing of Our Love Languages
As I write this post, I am reminded of the “The 5 Love Languages,” a theory developed by Gary Chapman. The languages represent the different ways that people give and receive love. They are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
Not one of these languages can be spoken on social media. You could make an argument for Words of Affirmation, but, when you share those words with all your “friends,” it cheapens them. The sincerity, vulnerability, and human element are lost.
If not one of these languages can be spoken on social media, yet most Americans spend an excess amount of time interacting on social media, can most of us really expect to live a life of love and compassion? A life that will get us closer to God and closer to our potential.
Let's Recognize Social Media's Potential
We have been given the gifts of the internet and social media, and we are irresponsibly taking them for granted. We can communicate with and learn from people who we would never have the chance to meet in person. We can create new business models (like this one ?). We can directly offer our creations to the world. We can impact social change more easily than ever. So what are we waiting for?
Check out my post, “10 Simple Ways Social Media Can Support Your Potential,” where we’ll discuss ways to use social media as a tool to challenge our limiting beliefs and better ourselves.
In the meantime, if you feel like your relationship with social media is an unhealthy one, you may want to check out my post, “Own Your ‘Why’ – 5 Simple Steps,” and really stop to consider why you place so much importance on social media.
Do you think you’re a social media addict? If so, what’s one step you can commit to that will help you overcome your addiction? Or, what tips would you give to those who are? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Only Have 1 Minute
“Many Teens Check Their Phones in Middle of Night,” The Wall Street Journal 6.18.19
“Do You Have a Social Media Addiction?” Northpoint Washington
“Drivers talk on cell phones less but surf, e-mail more,” USA Today, 11.18.14
“Screens and Sleep,” Common Sense Media, 2019
“The 5 Love Languages,” Gary Chapman