Social media has very quickly become ingrained in human lives.
I remember the first time I ever saw a kid, younger than the age of five, with his own iPad.
I was maybe around eight or nine years old.
This was ten years ago - the internet, social media, and mobile devices were not as common as they are today.
Or at least, you wouldn't walk around and see every newborn child with a mobile device.
Today, it's normal to see little kids, no older than a few years running around with mobile devices - in fact, they wouldn't be running around, they'd be sitting around on their phones!
It's crazy to think how disconnected we've become from our world and habits over the past 10-20 years.
A few days ago, I was listening to a podcast, and they were talking about how social media has made people lonelier than ever.
Most people don't even know their neighbour's names.
I feel like social media was created to pull people closer than they could ever be before.
Just think about it: the only way to communicate not long ago was by sending letters and waiting for one back.
Today, you're able to speak in real-time over phone, over video call, texting, and now there's even technology being built that lets you physically and digitally be there without being there.
In essence, social media and the wider web have enhanced our lives. However, taking a closer look, we're able to blatantly see how much worse our lives have gotten.
Social media is a double-edged sword. You see people like KSI, Logan Paul, MrBeast, etc making millions from social media.
On TikTok, there are people, with virtually no talent, who have 100s of millions of followers.
For a small minority of people (relative to our population), social media is the best thing ever. It's almost like a cash-cow that just shoots dollar signs out.
For the majority of us, however, social media is the worst thing yet we fail to realise this.
In this article, I'm going to be discussing 5 negative effects of social media on our lives.
Negative effects on time
They run 10s/100s of experiments to see what sort of features or small tweaks will keep user retention longer.
From a business point of view, it's very smart.
However, from a human point of view, it's the worst thing ever.
Think about the last time you went on social media and got off when you were supposed to.
Probably never, right?
Let's use TikTok as an example since it's the worst one of all.
With TikTok, they've managed to master retention.
I haven't got a single day without seeing my younger sister, girlfriend, or even close family relatives on TikTok.
The way it works is simple - there are short videos (usually up to a minute long), there's loud music in each video.
As soon as the video ends, the app immediately swipes to the next one.
When we look at Instagram, for example, swiping is something you have to do.
TikTok has eliminated any resistance needed to use their platform.
All you have to do is click on the app's icon, and you're stuck in for the next 30 minutes at least.
On average, a user spends 2 hours and 24 minutes on social media.
I've used similar examples to this before.
But imagine what you could do with 2 hours and 24 minutes extra per day?
I use that time to write on my blog.
2 hours 24 minutes is around 17 hours 30 minutes per week.
This is 70 hours per month or 540 hours per year.
Something so small and innocent ends up costing you over 500 hours per year or almost an entire month's worth of time.
If you spend those 540 hours per year doing something else - let's forget about business for a second - even spending this time with family or friends, would it not be a lot more beneficial?
I just checked my social media usage (on Instagram mainly) and it was 5 minutes every day.
I feel like this is still too long. 5 minutes a day is still a little over one day a year wasted on social media.
I don't think the problem lies in social media, but our own value for time.
We don't take a second or two to think of the opportunity costs of wasting so much time.
As soon as you take a minute to really think about how valuable your time is, you'll realise how foolishly you've been spending it.
Time, unlike money, is a commodity that only depletes.
Negative effects on focus
Did you know that it can take you up to 15 minutes to get back to the level of focus you had after being distracted?
Imagine you're in a state of deep work - you're getting lots done and all of a sudden you hear 'DING!'
You realise it's your phone - a notification popped up saying a celebrity just posted, you better go check it out, right?
This small, seemingly innocent action can lead to a loss of focus.
As a society, we've never been less focused. Ever.
A few months back, I started practicing something to help with my focus.
I've spoken about a few techniques I've used, for example, when I wrote my 30,000-word book in a week.
Thinking back now, I didn't talk about this one simple yet powerful trick.
I simply turned down my phone's volume to 0.
My phone doesn't produce any sound at all - not when it rings, not when there's a notification, nothing.
The only time my phone makes a sound is when It's an alarm.
I didn't leave it there, though.
I then took my phone, and put it on the table near me, facing down.
That's it. I didn't put it in a drawer upstairs, I didn't put it somewhere and lock it, I didn't give it to someone for the day.
I just left it right next to me, faced down, with no sound whatsoever.
I know what you're probably thinking, "What if there's an emergency!"
Don't worry, if it's an emergency, they'll find a way to reach me.
Just in case, I have Whatsapp web downloaded - that way, when people need me, they can call me on Whatsapp and I can pick up on my laptop.
The reason I do this is because Whatsapp is my least active application - I don't use it for anything other can to call when I'm working.
Sometimes, when I get tempted to pick up my phone and browse through it, I just put it behind my laptop then the problem disappears.
It's so simple to stop overusing social media and our phones, we just don't actively do it.
Negative effects on expectations
Here's the kicker!
Social media is full of false expectations that people always seem to fall for.
When I ran my marketing agency, I used to be on social media every day because it was part of my work.
I would message businesses on my personal Instagram and so I did scroll through Instagram here and there.
Even when I started my first ever business, the dropshipping store, I had to go through Instagram and scroll until I found an ad - this was to find products that might be worth selling.
This led me to see lots of things that I was better off not seeing.
See, when you're on Instagram, you're going to see so much stuff that just isn't real.
The simplest example are 'influencers.'
'Influencers' are probably the biggest social media stunt-makers.
90% of them probably don't live the sort of 'all-happy, no problems, just luxury' lifestyle they're showing.
Course sellers - don't get me started!
When you see a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or anything exotic, just run.
You're about to be sold a course because you're broke and you're not like him, you don't have the cars or the lifestyle.
Going back to TikTok, teenagers and young people (around my age give or take) will see people like Charlie D'Amelio and see a perfect, fairytale life.
They'll see her, 17 or 18 years old, living the life of a queen.
They start posting videos on social media because their expectations of overnight success are so blurred.
They post a few videos and notice that they're only getting 4 views per video.
Let's take a sneak peek at the sexual world of social media and the web.
Today, millennials don't understand what to expect from a partner.
You go on social media, and you see beautiful women who seem perfect. No flaws, no marks, perfect bodies.
I'd hate to be the party pooper, but filters exist.
On top of this, these 'perfect bodies' are perfectly made with a bit of surgery.
Life is never as perfect as it seems on social media.
Take adult movies too - some can go as long as 2, 3 hours!
You can understand the disappointment on people's faces when they first have sex and last no longer than a minute.
All of this can lead to negative self-talk, the feeling of shame, the feeling like you're not enough, or worthy.
Just take a second to compare your life to someone who seems like they don't have much - maybe someone in a 3rd world country.
See, these people, most were born and raised with no access to the internet or mobile devices.
However, they seem so happy!
It's simply because they don't fall victim to the trap we all face with social media.
Negative effects on health
I'm no doctor, and I'm not going to sit here and rehearse some stats for you to act like I know anything about health.
However, being someone who spends so long on the internet (writing, working on a business, and YouTube or Netflix at night), I know firsthand how social media can make you feel.
Not long ago, when I was still running my agency, I was in the worst mental state I could be in.
I was almost in a state of depression - it's the reason I ended up writing the 30,000-word book, to express my thoughts and feelings.
Every day, I felt like I didn't want to wake up.
I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep. Waking up would mean having to relive the same horrors as yesterday.
I would reach out to a ton of prospects or leads with the expectation to get nothing back.
(A few days ago, I wrote an article about finding more clients, and closing more deals!)
I would go on Facebook groups and see posts of people celebrating their wins.
"I just closed x clients this week."
"I went from pizza boy to £60k per month."
"Just closed a client for £4000 per month."
This added fuel to the fire and my mental state just got worse and worse.
I couldn't stop comparing my situation to everybody else who was supposedly seeing all this success.
What am I doing wrong that these people are mastering?
I started to drown myself in more and more Youtube videos looking for the 'secret,' even though I knew there is no secret.
I knew everything I needed to - it was just about the action.
The issue is that when we see all this 'success' on social media, we lose sight of all that we have.
We start comparing our lives to the lives these people are apparently living.
All of a sudden, what we have is nothing relative to what these people have.
This is where practicing and mastering gratitude comes in.
It's unhealthy to stay on social media because it will lead to depression.
It will lead to the fear of missing out (FOMO), like you're not doing enough and you're being left behind by all these people living the dream.
You start to get lazy, you try to escape your sad reality by watching YouTube, or Netflix, or by browsing through social media even more.
Negative effects on relationships
I remember when I went to Dubai one time.
Although it was extremely hot, making it almost impossible for me to go outside and enjoy myself, it was the first time I felt connected with something.
I'm a Muslim man, and although Dubai is a more urban version of these Arabic countries, it still felt like home, like I belonged.
It was one of the first times I was able to truly step back and spend some time with my family, the ones I love.
Social media was supposed to be something that brought us closer together, it was supposed to make staying far away, or in long-distance relationships easier.
Nowadays, it's just a way to escape.
I've never felt more disconnected from family and friends than now.
Spending all your time on social media makes you forgot about the people you love.
You become so hooked onto the lives of others, people that don't even know you exist, that you just forget about everyone who loves you.
Having breakfast, lunch, or dinner is supposed to be a time for families to come together.
I don't know about you, but my family (even me) all have a device on, doing our own thing during these times.
Some of us eat at different times from others.
Some of us don't even eat at the table together.
This isn't what family is. Households have become more like communal areas for people living together.
The worst thing that can happen is living out your life, aimlessly being controlled by social media.
All of a sudden, you start losing people, you start to age, and then you realise how much you really missed out on.
Don't live your life in regret - the taste of regret is bitter and painful.
Did you learn anything from this article?
Do you agree with any of my viewpoints?
Let me know below.
Till next time,