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Leaving Social Media

Leaving Social Media

I am proud of my son Ben who has decided to take a break from social media. His reasoning showed real maturity. Ben has always had a high level of empathy. He realized Facebook had become a constant source of negativity in his life.

As well, he has said he is, “Losing respect for some because they are placing their hate for some leaders above their dedication to truthful statements.” He followed this by saying, “Dad, you and I have talked about some of the bad things about social media. I realize I agree with you so I have decided I need to step away for a while.”

That was over three months ago and he still remains social media celibate.

Ben made his own decision but you may be interested in exactly what we had talked about. My observations come from watching my children, their peers, and the students at the university where I am on faculty.

Social networks are a tremendous time waster. Studies show the average person spends a minimum of forty-five minutes a day on social networks. Some studies raise that estimate to hours. And, since social networks entice you to click on other sites, the wasted time quotient continues to climb.

Social networks can become your life. Network friends can actually replace actual friends. The networks can become your life, replacing the urge to be in real community with others. For many people social networks are hiding places from the realities of life.

Social networks deteriorate communication skills. I now have the occasional college assignment submitted with emoticons and texting anagrams.  But the real trend I have noticed is lazy writing and a tendency to choose the shortest, most common, and simplest words instead of the best, and most accurate ones.

Social networks tend to rob you of your attitude of gratitude. Scanning through posts of new cars, new houses, special trips, expensive restaurants, etc., it is easy to feel our lives don’t compare and all that we are fortunate to have seems to diminish. Of course, this also assumes those posting have the money to afford all those perks, whereas, I suspect, many of them are going further in debt.

Social networks often don’t consider you to be a person, just a revenue stream. Their purpose is to make money and you are the source, so they tempt you whenever and however they can to make you part with your time and money.

Social networks can entice lying. It’s hard to limit one’s self to the truth when there are limitations to the means by which one’s readers can verify. One can easily project a false image of who they really are.

Social networks can make you feel like a loser. It can be a challenge to not feel demoralized when you are regularly subjected to the virtual lives of others who seem to be happier than you, more popular, and more successful. You can feel friendless if you create a post and nobody “likes” it.

If you have fallen into the trap of using social networking to evaluate your physical value and are a person who likes to post photos (or glamour shots) to receive compliments, if nobody responds there is a tendency to feel unattractive.

Social networking can open you to bullies. There are many in our culture who assume they elevate themselves by forcing others down. As well, the response to a post with which they disagree inspires some to attack the messenger, not the message. Although some folks never seem to grow out of it and rise above it, I have found it is hardest for a teen to decipher (or ignore) hurtful posts.

These issues aside, social networking can be a useful tool. For instance, our on-line parenting magazine, Just18Summers uses it to promote our content.

I use social networking to keep connected with friends I rarely see. I have moved fourteen times and lived in the four corners of North America so I am happy I can keep connected with the lives of friends.

I know folks who use it to find recipes, entertainment reviews, humorous stories, etc.  There is some value to social networking. But, like my son, you need to know its status in your life.

And speaking of my son and his decision: I am already seeing positive changes. Ben is using his regained time to practice on a guitar, he is doing more things with his brother, he’s doing more socializing in person with friends, and (my favorite) he is spending more time with me! Some day he may return, but for now he has stepped away and he couldn’t be happier with his decision.

By: Dave Trouten is the married father of two teenage boys and a Division Chair & Professor of Communication at Kingswood University.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

One Comment

  1. Love this blog post. Great advice!!

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