Social media is a digital toxin. Like alcohol or other drugs, it’s incredibly addictive and harmful to one’s mental health. No one can quit, because nearly everyone is unbelievably attached.
As Dr. Nicholas notes, the addiction is by Big Tech’s design. Social media is set up to make addicts of us and our children. They’re incentivized to. Who doesn’t want lifelong customers and sellable data to a big pool of marketers, corporations, and political influencers? They intentionally encroach on the hallowed ground of independent thoughts because there is money to be made and power to be accrued.
Many people, because of their own addiction to it, ignore the malicious and catastrophic underbelly of social media; oftentimes because they don’t see a way out of their own addiction.
But there is a way out. It is not impossible to have a healthy relationship with social media. I myself have successfully built up a psychological immune system against it and its pervasive techniques.
After thinking about how I maintain my healthy relationship with social media, I was able to narrow it down to three simple techniques which I want to share with you today.
The first is to make sure that you are a whole person in real life. And by whole person, I mean, body, mind, and soul. Are you working hard on a career that’s real? Are you interacting with others who lift you up and offer support in a physical community with you? Are you taking care of your soul?
If you’re not a whole person in real life, then you will be easily manipulated and consumed by social media.
This is why children are so susceptible. They’re not developed. They’re not ready. They aren’t full people yet so to speak. The last thing they need is to add an addiction to their already young and developing minds.
You wouldn’t encourage your child to start drinking for twelve hours a day. But when it comes to social media, that’s exactly what we allow our children to do. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — there’s no reason for your child to have social media. I cringe when I see nine-year-olds on TikTok. My children will not have social media, and I hope you’ll do the same. Or at least reconsider a previous decision to let them.
The second technique is to know — and if you don’t know, ask yourself — what treasures you want to accumulate in life.
Let me put it another way. Who are you following in the online world? Is it Kim Kardashian? Is it Instagram models, rich influencers, and make-up artists? It should be people that lift you up and inspire you to live a better, realistic, and fuller life.
I don’t follow many accounts on Instagram, but when I do, I like to follow one that are beautiful and point me to life in the physical world. I like to follow accounts which encourage me to do more, or become better. Say, farming in my backyard. Or more aesthetically inclined accounts, like home design. I also like following families that are in my life, because I love seeing their photos and they often inspire me.
The third way to combat the negative effects of social media is to say what you mean. As I’ve mentioned before, don’t create an avatar for yourself. Ask yourself whether you’d do it in real life before you post that comment or that picture.
For example, many of us during a crisis, will comment and say that we’re “praying.” I just had a moment like this last week when talking to one of my girlfriends. I texted her and said, “we’re praying for you guys.” But then I stopped myself, because I realized I didn’t actually pray for her at that moment. And I wasn’t planning to. It was just something I said. So, I paused and said a short prayer.
This is my final and most important point. Don’t make a fake version of yourself online. Be a whole person in life, and allow that to dictate your relationship to your device and through it, your relationship with social media. You will then naturally tend towards a more whole, happy, and healthy lifestyle. As will your children — watching the example you set.