When used for purposes of knowledge acquisition, information sharing, and community involvement, no one would debate the idea that social media can have an enduring positive impact our lives. However, with every scroll, click, like, and share, the digital debris that we collect and store on our internal ‘hard drive’ has a way of leaving its indelible mark on our psyche.
And therein lies the bane of our socially mediated existence: Our desire to connect with the energies that make us feel whole and inspired lead us down the social media rabbit hole, yet we come up feeling incomplete, discouraged, and blah. We find ourselves on the path to digital self-destruction.
As many of us can testify, extended social media use can cause our nervous systems to get stuck in overload mode. Like computers, we have a finite capacity to effectively store, process, and integrate the gazillion bytes of data that we input on a daily basis. As we continually integrate this information, we can easily overwhelm our ‘processor’ (in fact, we often do so without even realizing it). And when we do, our functionality lags, and, eventually, we run the risk of crashing.
A quick look at human neurophysiology tells us that in order for our neural networks to function optimally, our brain needs rest. It needs relaxation. And it needs an occasional reboot. And, no, the brain isn’t really relaxing when we go down the rabbit hole. In fact, current research on social media behavior shows that our neural networks are often firing at full force as we process our [virtual] friend’s views on love, politics, religion, sex, and inquiries about where they should go on vacation for the fourth time this year.
So, instead of viewing content that can potentially elicit such a strong neuropsychological response, make a commitment to avoid anything that involves looking at a digitized screen for a period of time. Go for a walk. Weed the garden. Visit a real friend (not a virtual one).
As creative beings, imagination is one of the most powerful (and empowering) building blocks of identity. It’s the essence of creativity. It’s fuel for motivation. And very often, it’s the force that allows us to share the gift in our heart with world. Yet, evidence shows that we’re less likely to use our imagination if we’re obsessively engrossed in someone’s attitudes, beliefs, and online exploits.
Beyond the entertainment value, our tendency to get wrapped up in the political-theological-hysterical buzz feed can cause us to cast our unique needs, interests, and passions to the wayside. When we choose to log out of the social media fog for a time, only then can we ignore the irrelevancies that fill our feeds… and, instead, focus on the energies that fuel our lives.
In an age of chronic screen dependency (yes, that’s a real thing), periodic separation from the virtual world can not only help us to avoid the ill effects of digital wear and tear, but it can reconnect us to the living, breathing, humanistic elements of the real world. In fact, meaningful disconnection may be just what we need to ensure a stronger, more stable connection at our next login.
Don’t look now, but in this increasingly one-dimensional world, ‘powering down’ might just become the new empowered.