Last week, we talked about the science behind the very real epidemic of social media addiction. More than just a cultural phenomenon, we discussed the real neuropsychological drivers that make our addiction to social media not so different from gambling, sex, and food addictions.
Like any other addiction, our addiction to social sharing can rob us of a fulfilling life...and mask our true identity.
As promised, today we want to share our thoughts on what might be the solution. Most people are misled about the value of WHAT they share - and in fact, this may be the true crux of the problem, rather than the social sharing by itself. We live in a "look-at-me" culture of selfia mania. And maybe, for a little while, getting attention for our superficial shots makes us feel good (though studies have linked selfies to insecurity and other unattractive traits) Fine. But if we are sharing nothing but good hair days, outfits, and swanky nights out, then we are subtly and subconsciously telling the world that we want to be judged by these things. Yet, as we discussed last week, we also keep posting more of the same content, because it's easy, and we become truly addicted to the dopamine rush triggered by those little "likes".
While we become puppets to our own chemical highs, we have defined ourselves to the world as an extension of whatever we're posting. And when that's mostly superficial content, not only do we begin isolating real social bonds, but at some point we begin compromising our real self-worth (which by the way, is so much more than a selfie).
Looking good and getting a few compliments can boost confidence and there is nothing wrong with taking good care of ourselves. But when our profiles become dominated by selfies and superficial content, we unwittingly start telling the world that perhaps that’s all there is to us.
So should you delete all of your social media accounts before you become a classified addict? That's probably not realistic. Instead, the key may be as simple as thinking about what you share. If social sharing is about self expression, what is it about yourself that you that you really want to matter? Chances are, your #selfies and #OOTD doesn't reflect that.
Deep down we yearn to matter in a real way, and that can only come from creating actual impact.
In order to matter in a real way we have to get outside ourselves. We all have the power to be more than just a fixture - and that comes from doing real things for real people - however small or simple. The deep, almost inexplicable satisfaction we become creators of something positive is lasting, healing, contagious...and authentic.
Being liked for actions - rather than appearances and possessions - brings us deeper satisfaction, because we're being recognized for a part of ourselves over which we have choice and control. And strangely enough, research has found that selfless behavior toward others actually makes us happier and healthier ourselves! So regardless of your concern for others - that's at least one good selfish reason to be selfless.