There has been a lot talk about the downsides of phone usage. In particular, social media consumption. Somehow using your smartphone for long hour sessions is now considered a bad thing. It can increase the likelihood of depression and in worse case lead to suicide. While there have been unfortunate stories about phone usage that led to unwanted behavior, it doesn’t mean that using your phone is inherently bad.
Instagram as an example is considered to be a platform that can depress people. The platform has an unequal amount of content that displays the best parts of people their lives. This could be social gatherings, life achievements, body-shape progress, traveling to new places, meeting new people and many more.
However, people that consume long hours of Instagram content, compare their own lives to that of the content creator. They cloud their thinking and ask why their lives are not the same. Why am I not as successful? Why can’t I go to the gym more? Why am I not as beautiful? Why can’t I travel to these new places? Why can’t I have the same skill? All these negative thoughts can be generated through social media consumption. However, in these examples, there is no indication that it has to do with the content or platform itself. The only thing these thoughts have in common is that it’s about themselves.
The problem is not the content that is being presented by Instagram or the content creators. The problem lies in the mindset of the consumers because they are the ones comparing their lives with the content.
They compare the platform’s content to their own life. It gets even worse when they can compare it significantly more than once. They see the great moments and achievements that they have not experienced yet (and may never). This is the wrong mindset when consuming any type of content. They ignore the hardships of the content creators because it is not being presented. The hours put in to work out to reach a certain body shape. The sacrifice they made on their family and friends to go to new places. Yet, they compare their current situation to the best possible situation.
People that suggest consuming the happiness and achievements of somebody else is a bad thing is untrue. Are you telling me that if I read a biography of someone successful I should feel depressed because I won’t reach the same heights? Are you suggesting that when I watch an athlete, I should feel bad because I won’t be as good? Of course not. Most people read books to learn. Most people watch an athlete performing to get entertained or motivation. Using social media platforms should be the same. Instead, users compare themselves.
While there are indeed some content-creators that generate negative content, I believe that most of them just want to express their happiness. They want to share that they are happy. Share a that they reached a milestone through hard-work. Share the moments they have with the people they love. Share that they have a good life in a hard world. Since when is reading and seeing the happiness of someone else considered a bad thing?
Social media content displays the best moments people their lives and that should be motivation for others. Content about fitness progress should motivate you to follow the same workout routine. Content about new learnings should motivate you to also learn the same skill. If you truly want to experience the same moments, set it as a milestone or goal to reach towards too. Don’t compare your life.
Your phone is built to be a weapon for your own benefit, it is not a curse. Instead of reducing your time on Instagram, uninstalling social media applications and blaming the content itself, try to improve your mindset first.
I think that if you have the right and healthy mindset, using your phone can only be used the benefit of you.
P.S. These are just my thoughts on it. I am not an expert on depression nor social media.