Unplugging from social media is even more necessary right now

Christian Davis, Reporter

On Jan. 26, 2020 Netflix released “The Social Dilemma,” a documentary revealing big tech companies’ true motives behind apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

On the surface these apps seem like harmless pieces of software that help you and your friends keep in touch, but they are constantly collecting our data and can also be a source of distraction and torment for some.

This semester specifically, I have been on my phone a lot more than usual. According to The Harris Poll’s social media use research conducted from March through late May, between 46% and 51% of Americans were using social media more since the pandemic began. So luckily, it’s not just me.

In “The Social Dilemma”, Anna Lembke from Stanford University School of Medicine said that humans are hardwired through millions of years of evolution to want to be connected to other humans. With this in mind, it is no wonder why Instagram and other social media platforms are so addictive.

Tech companies are capitalizing on our addictions to our phones and are collecting huge amounts of data about us to predict our every action, said Aza Raskin, who is featured throughout the film and co-founded Humane Technology.

Have you ever searched for a product on Amazon and then an ad for that product pops up on your Instagram feed? Well, now you know.

Another sinister side of constant social media use is the impact it has on self-esteem. Social media has increased our exposure to hundreds and often thousands of people who can see what we are doing at any time.

We use likes and comments to tell if people like us or not and often conflate that with the truth, said Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook senior executive, in “The Social Dilemma.”

Overall, it is important to remember that the amount of likes you get does not determine your self-worth, and it is another reason we should avoid using social media so often.

Dealing with a semester that is completely online, it can be hard to focus on schoolwork when our phones are always close at hand.

This, on top of a lack of structure that comes with online learning, can spell disaster for some students because it is all too easy to scroll through Instagram or Twitter while in Zoom classes to see how many likes or comments you got on a post.

One of the first things many of us do when we wake up is check our phones for any notifications. I can admit that when I see I have unread messages or Instagram notifications—I get excited—but only for a few seconds, until I am looking for my next social media fix.

An addiction to social media can easily hinder your ability to perform well in school, especially while it is virtual.  Disciplining yourself with the amount of time you spend on your phone can help you get the grades you want.

Here are some ways to help:

  • Leave your phone in a different room while studying
  • Keep yourself on a schedule
  • Turn off as many push notification as possible
  • Don’t sleep with your device
  • Be aware of how many times you check your phone

My tip to students this semester is to put down your phones and study.