Social media as a window, not a mirror

Social media as a window, not a mirror

Photo Credits: KIYOMI WATSON / AGGIE

With all this free time, be mindful of your social media use 

With more time on our hands than ever before, checking social media has never been easier or more appealing. We now find ourselves spending many hours scrolling (possibly stalking) on Instagram or watching thousands of videos trying to learn the newest TikTok dance. While this may seem like a great way to stay occupied, it’s not the best use of our time. 

By Psychology Today’s stated measures, I’m what you would call a “passive user.” I have one picture on my Instagram profile and I almost never update my stories or Facebook status. But I am no stranger to the rabbit hole of social media. I find myself reaching for my phone throughout the day to observe the lives of “active users” for hours on end. Before I know it, five minutes turns into two hours and I’ve watched over 10 videos of Charli D’Amelio doing the same TikTok dance. All of which has taught me nothing other than that I will never be famous because I can’t dance. 

Yes, social media is a beautiful advancement which I am grateful for. It brings people together, especially in times like this, when we cannot physically be near each other. But no matter what type of user you are, overuse of social media is never good. 

Constantly looking at other people’s pictures makes it easy to compare our lives to others, leaving us feeling insecure and anxious. And regularly posting gives people the feeling that they have to filter their lives in order to maintain their persona. Either way, we all face judgement for how we portray ourselves. 

Today, our feeds can only be filled with memories or trending DIY projects and activities. It is not until you see a picture from a festival you went to last year or a date night that you realize how much you miss the way life used to be. Confined in our houses and with our phones, we begin to fear we are missing out on some of the most important years of our lives. 

There are some people, though, who are taking this time as a challenge where they  make delicious food and write their first novel — kudos to them. For those of us who are taking this time to binge watch Netflix and play Animal Crossing, seeing others be more productive may make us feel lazy and unaccomplished. Ultimately, we are all just trying to cope with the scary world in which we are living. No one way is better than the other. 

It would benefit us to admit that right now is not the time where we have to maximize productivity and happiness. It is okay and should be encouraged to be honest with yourself about your state of mind. Post about your life even when it’s messy. Reach out to people when you need to be uplifted. Show your “followers” that you’re human too and that we are all experiencing the stress and pressures of our new reality. Expressing yourself in this way may also encourage others to do the same. 

I am by no means boycotting social media, but there is a tangible harm in constantly comparing ourselves to others and only sharing the highlights of our lives. Social media makes it easy to filter out the bad and ignore the good around us. Not everyone who reads this article will reduce their screen time, but if there’s one thing you do take away, I hope that it is to be mindful. 

Be mindful of how you use social media and how much you use it. Challenge yourself to put down your phone and pick up a book instead. When you do use social media, use it as a window to admire people for who they are, rather than as a mirror through which we judge ourselves and others too harshly. 

Written by: Kacey Cain — klcain@ucdavis.edu 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie