I used to love Instagram.
I like taking photos and enjoyed scrolling through the many different posts in my feed. A combination of fitness, theatre, music, celebrity and food related images constantly bombarding my brain. Lets face it, I also liked getting likes and comments on my feed. The images in my feed were contradictory with over the top sugary treats one minute and then someones hard abs the next. Seems like harmless fun right?
“The Royal Society for Public Health and the charity Young Health Movement conducted a survey in the first few months of 2017 of almost 1,500 young people (aged between 14 and 24) in Britain surrounding their social media usage.
They were asked to score how each social media site impacted a list of 14 health and wellbeing issues including anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep, bullying and ‘FoMo’ (Fear of Missing Out).
Based on the ratings, Instagram was listed as having the most negative effect. The photo-uploading platform was found to harm perceptions of body image, increase the fear of missing out and have a detrimental effect on sleep.”
This one article made me think about my Instagram and social media use. After some thought I realised that Instagram really wasn’t doing me any favours in terms of how I viewed my body and health, making me feel like I was never doing enough and that no matter how low my body fat got I still wasn’t quite there. I’m not saying there are not a heap of positive messages on Instagram as well, though I personally decided the negatives outweighed the positives, as well as it being a time vacuum and an easy distraction. Rethinking my social media use has also meant that I have reevaluated my phone usage and I try (though I am still addicted) to be more aware of this. Its fun to watch people wander around the city and cross crossings without looking away from their phone. Think of all those random interactions, eye contact and the odd smile from people you pass in the street that we are all now missing.
Heavy phone use affects posture, eyesight, brain function and sleep patterns. Social media, apps, notifications tend to deliver bursts of dopamine, which has a positive affect on our emotions, movement, and sensations of pleasure and pain. When we are rewarded via notifications and likes, our brain rewards us with little bursts of dopamine, so creating a compulsion loop that keeps us coming back for more. This is the same loop that’s responsible for addictive behaviours associated with nicotine or cocaine addiction. Crazy right?
As a small challenge this week, see how you go with limiting your social media use for the day and how that makes you feel. Let me know how you get on.