10 Reasons Science Says We Should Say Goodbye to Social media

As an advocate of science, it’s time for me to say goodbye to social media. Or at least reduce my time spent there and change who I spend it with.

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The blog will continue three times a week, as always. I’ve come to enjoy blogging, especially getting to know other bloggers. But social media is different.

I embarked on the journey into Twitter and Facebook specifically for my writing. Instead of giving me the visibility and platform to succeed as an author, I’ve found it stealing my energy, draining my time, and overall, making me unhappy.

So, if you see me less active on Twitter or Facebook, understand that it’s not you. It’s me.

I can’t handle the barrage coming at me. People asking me why I didn’t “like” something. The stupid feelings of inadequacy because not enough people like or retweet something I posted.

So. Done. With. It.

Besides, the point of social media was to help my writing, not suck insane amounts of time from me that I should be spending writing. Or with my kids. Or my husband. Heck, cleaning the dust bunnies out of the basement would probably be a better and more fulfilling use of my time.

I figured it was just me feeling this way, but after a little research trying to learn how to overcome these feelings, I learned I am not alone in this. A bit more digging into the multitude of research papers out there shows that social media makes us less happy in a lot of ways. This helped me feel better about my decision.

Here are ten reasons research says why we should let go of social media, or at least reduce it:

 

1. You Enjoy Experiences Less

Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but studies show that the act of recording something for social media can actually take some of the enjoyment out of doing the thing you’re sharing. Whether it’s snapping a picture of a delicious dessert, or going to the zoo, studies show you will enjoy it less if you immerse yourself in the experience and don’t worry about sharing it with the world.

Perhaps this isn’t so counter-intuitive. Hard to truly enjoy something if you’re trying to get the perfect shot of your cake before you eat it, and are then worrying how many people will “like” your post and if it’ll be seen as “cool” enough.

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2. You Can Miss Out on the Experience Altogether

Research corroborates what most of us know or have witnessed. That parent too busy trying to get the perfect pictures that they don’t enjoy their child’s first birthday. They’re so busy trying to take pictures of all the cool things happening that they don’t participate. 

Except, social media takes this so much farther. Suddenly all of life’s events must be documented, and the person doing the documenting is missing out.

3. You Do Things You Know You Shouldn’t for the “Like”

I haven’t been on social media long enough to experience this personally, but I ’m not even going to Google how many people died last year taking dangerous selfies. Or what those selfies were.

But think about that. People have died taking selfies.

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4. Instagram Life

Rather than focusing on the good moment, the parts of life that enrich us and nourish us, social media can lure us into focusing on the moments that look good. We spend time chasing the Instagram-worthy times and miss out on some of the very best parts.

I can see this happening if you do post a lot on social media. You’ll never see a picture of me snuggled up in the recliner with both of my girls on my lap and all of us still in our jammies. But let me tell you, it’s my favorite part of the weekend when I can get it, and I’m going to miss it desperately when my girls are “too old” to snuggle.

5. Problematic for Relationships

  75% of people have admitted to being rude and disconnected because of their phone. This results in later feelings of guilt, regret, disappointment or embarrassment. Here’s a sign posted on a daycare door, per my Facebook friends.

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I can’t even imagine . . .  I normally have drop-off duty, but when I do get to pick up my girls instead, the joy of their faces makes whatever happened that day melt away. My preschooler can’t wait to tell me about her day, and my toddler is singing momma, momma and clinging to my leg. To miss out on that, for whatever’s on my phone . . . Please, please take a hammer a to my phone first.

6.  Social Media Feeds Envy

Particularly Facebook, makes people envious of others.  The reason this is particularly true of Facebook is that those in our social network are perceived like us. While you may “follow” JK Rowling or Stephen King or even the President of the United States on Twitter, Facebook tends to be fillwed with people we think of as peers. If all we see are their accomplishments, and never their failures or set-backs, people start to feel lesser about their own achievements.

In a society already inundated with marketers trying to make us feel unworthy unless we buy their product, this is the last thing I need.

Makes me wonder if this related to #4.  If all you ever see if other people’s Instagram life, or the special moments they post on Facebook, you may think that’s the entirety of their life. When, in fact, there’s still dishes to do, laundry to fold, and floors to sweep. 

7. Social Media Makes People Lonelier

My first thought when I read this was that maybe they weren’t doing a solid scientific study. Perhaps lonelier people were naturally drawn to social media. But they’d thought of that and proved that lonelier people aren’t drawn to social media in the first place.

So if you weren’t lonely in the first place, why would experiencing social media make them lonely? There’s some speculation that the lack of deep and meaningful relationships on social media is the driving cause behind this. While social media interactions tend to be more plentiful, they also tend to be more superficial and less fulfilling than other interactions.

Unless, of course, you’re in-person interactions are like those of the parents the daycare posted about.

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8. Social Media Causes Depression

Even just “lurking” can cause negative emotions. Given that depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for people between the ages of 15 and 44, anything to reduce this disease is desirable.

 

9. Social Media is Addictive

Of course it’s addictive.There’s a reason why we keep coming back to it over and over again. Companies like Facebook spend a lot of money keeping it that way. They know what lures us on, what keeps us clicking. Social media companies are for profit organizations. They make money by keeping you on their site. They know how to get your brain to give you a hit of that oh so good dopamine, you know, the neurotransmitter involved in pleasure.

It’s why Candy Crush is worth $6 billion. They know how to get you to spend money on a game one step above solitaire. And how to keep you doing it.

10. Social Media is Boring

Addictive, but boring. I can see this. I’m only half engaged on most social media platforms, anyway. Skimming through feeds, looking for stuff to click “like” on without spending too much time looking at any one thing.

Interestingly, according to the study, boredom is part of what keeps bringing us back.

We’re bored, so might as well check Facebook. We’re still bored, might as well go check Twitter…

 

 

How about you?  What’s your relationship with Social Media? Do you feel like it enriches your life, or is it a time thief? Maybe somewhere in between? Ever suffer from any of the downsides research has shown us social media has?  How did you deal with them?

Author Platform and Social Media

I’ve taken a class or two on social media for authors. It’s why I made myself join Facebook and Twitter, but I’m not sure if I’m maximizing what I’m doing. 


As I’m basically going to be re-doing my Facebook and Twitter pages, I’d love to start with a solid step-by-step plan aimed at beginners. I’m an introvert and the only reason I’m putting myself out there is for my writing.

I’d prefer a book to another class as I have two little kids, but if the class is truly excellent, I’ll work with DH to be able to take it.

If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them! 

Still Trying to Decide

On a pen name, that is.

I know, a lot has been written on using your real name.

I thought about this long and hard. I am a finance professional by day and have been looking to move to an officer-of-the-company type position. If I get Googled, I would prefer not to have an author page the first thing a prospective employer sees about me.

So, I considered Elizabeth Hunter. It was a name I toyed back in my college days of writing. Except, that name is also taken, and she also happens to be a romance writer *eye roll*.

I thought about Elizabeth Abbott. Turns out there is a writer by that name, but she specializes in history.

I considered Elizabeth York, Elizabeth Darren, and Elizabeth Stevens.

Then I thought about what I write. Romance with lots of high fantasy including knights, wizards and elves. Dark gods and, of course, dragons.

So, contemplating Elizabeth Drake. I haven’t seen another writer with that name, much less a romance writer.

Even thought about this as a symbol instead of the red rose.

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What do you think? Or maybe I’m just over-thinking an employer Googling me?

What If It Were Me?

I saw this picture, and it really struck a chord. A deep chord. She’s about the same age as my daughter. My daughter also loves giraffes. She had a pair of giraffe pants once, and would run up to me and point at her pants. “Momma, raf. Look Momma, raf.”

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I  suffer from really bad nightmares. The kind that leave me sweating and shaking when I wake up. The kind that make me not want to go back to sleep because I know exactly where the dream is going to pick-up again.

I have no idea where these nightmares have come from, but I’ve suffered from them all of my life. I have cut things like scary movies out of my life completely, and I hate the month of October as I have to avoid television and the non-kids side of Netflix.

Perhaps that will shed some light on the nightmarish stories that leapt into my head seeing this.

 

Nightmare 1

My father was Catholic, my mother was raised UCC. For various reasons, we worshiped with the Methodist church for the majority of my childhood.

But not all religions believe this is okay. When you lose the separation of church and state, this starts to matter. Really matter. Some countries even criminalize apostasy.  Some groups have taken religious affiliation even father. For example, under the Nazis, you would be considered Jewish with as few as one Jewish grandparent. Two Jewish grandparents and you were deported to the death camps.

So where is the story in all of this?

I saw the picture and began imagining a dystopian alternate reality where religious intolerance between the Christian sects has resurfaced. Where my Catholic grandparents are enough to get me and my two girls ripped away from my husband and herded like cattle into refugee camps.

I lose my job. My livelihood. My ability to provide for my family.

My girls lose their home. Their medical care. And their safe and comfortable lives. Instead of my toddler learning her alphabet and my pre-schooler developing her reading skills, we’re struggling just to eat.

As a mother to these two amazing little girls, you know I would give them anything I had, skip my own meals for them. As so many mothers in these horrible situations do. (And yes, I know this maternal sacrifice sounds cliche. I can’t tell you how hard I rolled my eyes about this before I had kids. But it’s real, oh so real.)

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How long can you face the hunger, the fear on your little ones’ faces, and the bleak future offering you nothing? How long can you hear the horror stories of children taken in the night for nefarious reasons, and there being nothing you can do to get them back or protect them?

Then you hear of this magical place called Quebec where it’s okay if you’re Catholic. Where you can live in peace. Where you can work again so your daughters can eat.

What would you do to get there?

Damned near anything.

After doing whatever must be done to get the fare, you can finally afford passage across Lake Superior and into the land of Canada.

You board the ship, only to have those magical Canadians sink it because you can’t come there. See, there have been others who came there who commit acts of terror. So now you’re banned. Even though all you wanted was to feed your children.

The nightmare gets worse.

In the sinking of the ship, you’ve lost both your daughters. The two things you had left to live for, the two little faces you went hungry for so their tummies would be a little more full.

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You’ve literally lost everything. Your spouse. Your home. Your children. You’re staring down the black maw of existential despair when a man whispers to you that you can have revenge. You can get even with those that killed your children and took away your hope. Those that have everything while you have nothing. And if you do this thing, he guarantees you that you’ll be reunited with your children in heaven.

Your sacrifice will make sure you and your girls are reunited with God.

I want to say that I am cynical enough to see through such nonsense. That I wouldn’t listen to the lies.

But that’s easy to say with a full stomach, wearing clean clothes, and sitting in my warm home with a computer on my lap.

I honestly don’t know what I’d do. I don’t think anyone does until they’re standing there facing it.

But I do know this. There is almost nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my little girls. I can’t imagine there are many mothers, many parents, that don’t feel that way.

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I know there are really bad people who want to use my empathy against me, but I cried real tears when I saw this. 

Nightmare 2

My thoughts then took another turn.

Perhaps my daughters survive the sinking of the boat, but now there is no hope. There is no magical Quebec for us. There is nowhere you can go, nothing you can do. You stare at your children’s tired, hopeless faces. Faces that used to be filled with love and happiness reflect only despair.

Your stomachs are always empty. You’re always cold. Always tired. And when your little ones cry, you can do nothing but hold them. You can’t even promise them things are going to get better because they can see through your lies.

Again the evil man comes to you.

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But now he offers you a deal.

You do this thing for him, this horrible thing, and it purges the “evil” from you and your daughters. They get to go home to their father. They get back the life that was taken from them. They will be fed. They will be warm. They will be safe.

Would I give my life for my little girls? Just the image of them cold, hungry and scared makes me cry genuine tears. You know I would.

Would I take the lives of others for my little girls? I want to say no. I want to believe I wouldn’t. But I don’t know. My daughters have never gone to bed hungry because I couldn’t feed them. They’ve never gone to bed cold because there was no roof over their head. They’ve never gone to bed scared because I couldn’t protect them.

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Whatever choices the powers-that-be make, I hope they understand the overwhelming love between a parent and a child. I hope they understand what we’d do, the lengths we’d go, for them. I hope they understand this and can find a way to keep out the bad but offer a sanctuary for those who just want to see their kids fed, clothed, and happy.

 

What about you? Ever think of dystopian alternate realities? Ever lay awake worried about your kids? Grandkids? If you don’t have kids, maybe you worry about nieces or nephews? Or maybe you just sleep very peacefully and now understand why my over-active imagination makes it impossible for me to read horror?

People Trap

My oldest daughter has been angling for a trip to Disney World for a year. I have no idea who told her about the place. I know it wasn’t me.

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I have family that lives in Florida, and they have given us an open invitation to come down and stay with them. They live on the other side of the peninsula from Disney World, but we could stay with them a few days, go to Disney a few days, etc.

Combine that with winter in the frozen tundra of the rust belt, and it sounds appealing.

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There are numerous large water parks a few hours from where we live. So, we decided to take the kids to one for a couple of days. It seemed like a nice trial run for a longer vacation.

It was not fun. With two kids, it was nothing but work the entire time we were there, and I couldn’t wait to come home. Strengthened my resolve that we will NOT be going to Florida or Disney World for at least several years.

Though the vacation wasn’t relaxing, the people-watching was interesting. I was quite surprised how many people have tattoos. I know, I know, it’s the thing these days, but I was still surprised.

More than that, I was surprised at what some of them were. If I was going to permanently ink something onto my body, it would need to be important. Perhaps my children’s birth dates or something equally as meaningful to me. Something I will care about as much when I’m 75 as I do now because I’ll still have the tattoo.

Something to make me overcome my hatred of pain to get the tattoo.

I tried not to pay too much attention to people’s ink, but I couldn’t help but notice a woman’s as we both took our toddlers through the toddler area. It said “Wine O’clock” with the picture of a clock underneath it. She must really like wine.

Other than that, my first time at an indoor water park was an experience. I was astounded at the strangeness of being in a building heated to 84 degrees as snow piled outside. It was odd to be swimming in a faux summer sun at six at night as they kept the building well-lighted into the evening as it gets dark early here. I watched in a certain amazement as a tub holding 1,000 gallons of water spilled every 3 minutes.

I get that the water is recycled throughout the park. But it still shocked me how much once-fresh water was being filled with chlorine and used at the park. Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed this, except for the episode of Sesame Street my toddler watched one of the nights we were there that showed an African child getting ready for school. The child’s whole family had a single regular-sized bucket of water that was used to wash their hands, feet, and brush their teeth.

You think this waste of water would’ve occurred to me before the vacation.

So, I did a little researching. Turns out water parks, particularly indoor ones, aren’t that big of water consumers.  Yes, it takes a lot of water to set-up the park, but they’re not as big of hogs as I thought.

My conscious is assuaged.

This, however, will not bring me flying back to one any time in the near future. Especially as it seems I caught another cold while there. Eighty-four degrees must be germ heaven in February.
How about you? Ever been to a water park? Ever taken children on an airplane? Ever been to Disney World with kids? How did it go? Would you do it again?