Social Media's Effects On Your Performance
Social media usage affects us in many ways sometimes not exactly apparent to us. This blog post discusses its effects on sleep, brain and social success.
Positive and negative social media arguments are an endless debate. From stories of people who were abused on social media to myriad possibilities for building personal brands. But why am I writing about this topic? One word - efficiency.
“Efficiency is the ability to avoid wasting resources in doing something or in producing a desired result.”
During the last few years, I wanted to optimise the usage of my time in order to do as many things as possible along school. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that social media and smartphones (about which I will talk in future posts) are one of the main reasons why I sometimes couldn’t achieve the level of efficiency I wanted to. The next few paragraphs are devoted to the scientifically proven effects (links on the bottom) of social media and my real-life observations connected to them.
Social success could be defined as the feeling of accomplishment in a social group and is also affected by social media use. The higher it is, the better we feel our lives are compared to others’. Scientific studies show that people using social media are experiencing fewer feelings of social success. The reason for this may lie in the fact that through social media people are able to apply “filters” and make it look as if their lives are perfect. Don’t fall for it, it’s usually not even remotely true. When I eliminated the sources of too saturated feeds on my social media platforms, I started feeling better. Not just on a daily basis but also about myself. There was more space in my head for my life and I devoted the time previously used for scrolling to my own development. I automatically focused on myself.
It is scientifically proven that social media use negatively affects sleep, while face-to-face communication is positively related to the number of hours slept at night. The science behind getting enough sleep is pretty fascinating: it affects how we look, feel, perform on a daily basis and has a significant impact on the overall quality of life. But, when cut short, the body is not allowed to finish muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of growth and appetite hormones. Previously, when I went to bed I usually picked up my phone and started scrolling. Not the best choice I ever made. Now I pick up my Kindle or a book and start reading, which has a double effect: better quality of sleep and learning a ton of new things. Try it some time and see the effects yourself!
The brain is a fascinating organ that can remodel itself according to its usage - when a region is used it grows connections between cells and when it’s not used it degrades them. But using social media instead of face-to-face for communication is associated with a less developed neocortex (a part of our brain involved in higher brain functions). An even more fascinating fact: when we are on social media, the brain releases the same chemicals that are released when we are gambling, drinking alcohol or smoking. These chemicals are called dopamines and are known as the “feel-good chemicals”. That’s why it feels so good when you get a text message, a like, a new “friend”. Such hormonal stimulation of the brain can increase the chances of being addicted to one of those substances. I can’t say that cutting my social media usage resulted in a better-developed neocortex. But what I can say is that the quality of face-to-face talks has markedly increased - covering fewer topics on social media leaves more for the actual conversation with the same person.
All these reasons are in some way or another associated with focus and the potential time we lose on social media. It feels good to get a like so we are constantly opening apps to check for them. This takes time, a lot of it if you add it up. This, in turn, deteriorates our focus on the things that are actually good and important for us, causing an additional loss of time. I came to such conclusions when I cut my social media use by at least 2/3 and only then did I realise how much better my life has become. And maybe not in a way of doing more things - just doing them better and devoting myself more to them.
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