Although the original purpose of social media was to help people learn and grow as individuals, we can’t deny it has turned into a fruitful ground for toxic and unhealthy thoughts.
It’s the reason why many students fail to focus on studying hard for the exams and why so many teenagers suffer from body-image issues. However, its negative impact doesn’t stop there, even companies suffer the consequences of wrong social media use.
So, does that mean social media is bad?
Of course not. After all, the title of this article isn’t “Why social media is bad for you.” No, we're here to discuss 12 things you’re doing wrong on the most popular social media sites.
How did Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire if Facebook is free of charge? I’ll tell you how.
Companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube make most of their money through advertising. Since they have instant access to billions if not millions of people, other companies pay them to market their products to their desired audience.
Some innovative alternatives
Some social media companies have come up with innovative ways of making money through you. That doesn’t mean you’re being scammed. In fact, you’re paying them voluntarily.
For example, when you send a virtual gift to someone via Facebook, you only pay about a dollar and that isn’t much. But, you’re not the only person using Facebook. There are millions of other users as well. So, if around a thousand users send gifts, Facebook can earn $1,000 every day. Within a year then, they should have earned a revenue of $365,000 solely from virtual gifts.
Yet another way of earning is the example of LinkedIn’s ‘premium accounts’. While a normal account is completely free of charge, a premium one requires paid access. Since the latter comes with benefits for job seekers, people are more than willing to pay a few dollars for it.
So What are YOU doing wrong on social media?
The 5 mistakes you’re making as a teenager
Choosing virtual relationships over the real ones
Many teenagers believe that their virtual friends are more trustworthy than the people around them. Now, I’m not saying that can’t be true. A lot of victims of bullying use social platforms to make friends so they won’t feel lonely.
But, the question is, will your virtual friend be able to give you a hug when you feel low?
And in case something terrible happens, will they be there to help you?
Moreover, you should be careful with whom you interact because the person on the other side of the screen could be a predator. Sometimes they claim to be the same age and look a certain way, when in fact, they’re older than your parents and just want to take advantage of your innocence. So, be wise when using social media. Be very selective about who you make friends with online.
Failing to think about the consequences of your words
Thanks to social media, everyone can express their thoughts and advocate what they believe in.
While that sounds like a great thing, many teenagers sometimes speak just for the sake of saying something. Without even realizing it, they become cyber-bullies themselves and that is dangerous. Cyberbullying has claimed the lives of many.
So I advise you to stop for ten seconds and think about what you’re about to post or comment. If you think it could hurt their feelings, keep it to yourself — it’s that simple.
Focusing on the superficial
Social media is filled with celebrities, models, bloggers and businesses from the fashion industry. I’m a blogger and digital marketer myself and I’ve met several others from the same field of work. What I’ve noticed in most of them is that they share content just for the sake of likes, even if the message is wrong.
So, if you’re drooling over someone’s hot body and wishing you looked that way, stop and ask yourself, “Why?” Why must you look that way? What is wrong with the way you look right now?
If you think your body shape or size is affecting your daily routine, then work out, eat healthy and meditate. If it isn’t affecting you in any way, look for ways to grow as an individual and contribute to society through your social media instead.
Spending way too much time in a world that does not exist
If you’re guilty of spending hours on end watching YouTube videos or just scrolling down Instagram to see what’s new, you’re missing out on a lot in life.
One of the primary reasons why so many teenagers suffer from poor mental health is that they spend most of their day seeing what other people are up to. Those other people hide their lows and share only their good times. As a result, many teenagers (and some adults too) keep thinking that they have the worst life.
Posting moments before “living” them
Another thing I noticed in many adolescents is that they’re so eager to share their moments on social media that they forget to live those moments first.
If you too are guilty of this, it’s time you changed that habit. At the end of the day, it isn’t the photograph that you will cherish. It’s the moment that you spent with your loved ones.
How can you make better use of social media?
Stand up for what you believe in
Your Facebook is your own platform. There, you can voice your opinions about the world and share your principles so everyone can benefit from them. For example, if you’re against bullying, you could use social media to advocate the rights of the bullied.
3 mistakes you’re making as a student
Scrolling, scrolling, and scrolling
I used to think that people exaggerated about the impact of social media on studies. However, when my own grades started dropping, my friend advised me to cut down on the excessive use of social media. Since I was desperate for a way to improve my grades, I decided to take his advice.
At first, that change seemed useless. However, with time, I realized my days are better structured and I can focus on my studies, work, and everything else that comes my way. So, it’s from my own and hundreds of other people’s experiences that I advise you to put an end to the infinite scrolling.
Uploading photos and videos to gain likes and comments
What’s the point in having hundreds of likes or comments on a post? It was that question that has entirely changed my perspective on social media. Whether you’re posting a snap of your textbooks before you start studying or a selfie from a party, if you’re doing it just to gain popularity, you’re not really benefiting anyone through it.
I know that many people consider these things to be “everyday joys.” But, if you’re doing it at the cost of something more important, then it’s high time you reorganized your priorities.
Watching back to back YouTube videos
I want you to remember this — the “Recommended” section on YouTube was made so you stay there all day. In fact, that’s a marketing trick because the more time you spend on the app/website, the higher the chances are that you’ll come across an ad. Then, every time you click on the ad, YouTube gets paid.
Further, most of the videos that grab our attention are petty and useless. For example, it’s 2 am in the morning and you find yourself watching a video about a spaghetti-eating competition between dogs. Had you been sleeping instead, you would have been able to start the next day on a happier and more positive note.
How can you make better use of social media?
Join an online discussion group
A discussion group is a place where many people (usually from the academic world) share their opinions and thoughts on certain issues. It isn’t as boring as you’d think. Rather, it’s eye-opening and it has the potential to change your entire worldview.
Join an online study group
Studying in a group with your friends is rarely a good idea. Usually, it only ends in fun and laughter. On the other hand, an online study group is a place where you study with a group of strangers, so there isn’t much room for distraction.
Further, some online study groups provide exam packets as well, so you can prepare for an upcoming examination and get help in case a certain subject is too hard. You can also share your knowledge there and help someone who is struggling with a particular subject.
Create a class group on social media
Since you and all of your classmates probably have easy access to social media, you could create a class group for important reminders and discussions. That way, you won’t forget important dates, you’ll be able to catch up on what you’ve missed and even clear some of your doubts as you’re studying.
One BIGGG mistake you’re making as an unemployed user
All of the mistakes I mentioned regarding teenagers and students
YouTube isn’t going to pay your bills for watching its videos nor is Instagram going to pay you for the likes you get on a post. So, get up, get out, and start exploring. In case you don’t find a job, you’ll be able to create one for yourself at least.
Nowadays, most of the people, especially millennials want to be entrepreneurs. So start your research today and build your own empire.
How can you make better use of social media?
Share your talent
Once you’ve discovered your talent, start sharing it in such a way that people can pay you for doing what you love. For instance, if you’ve discovered a talent in photography, create a page or a blog where you share your content so people can recognize your skill. It may take a long time to start making a lot of money from it, but it’s still better to earn a few dollars than to earn nothing at all.
Communicate with companies from around the world
Another thing you can do on social media if you’re struggling to find a job is to communicate with entrepreneurs or companies from around the world. LinkedIn might be the best option for this purpose, so make sure you create an attractive profile and communicate as much as you can. When the time is right, someone will reach out to you and give you a job.
2 mistakes you’re making as an employer
Using social media only for marketing
Did you know that social media is a great place to communicate with your customers, hire expert employees, and even increase sales? Unfortunately, many businesses assume that social media is ideal only for marketing.
Using the same strategies on all social media platforms
Every social media platform has its unique style. For example, Instagram demands eye-catching imagery while Twitter requires just a few words to spark a conversation. So, if you’re sharing the same content across all platforms, it’s highly likely your customers are bored with your strategies already.
How can you make better use of social media?
Share highly engaging content
Instead of posting blatant marketing content such as discounts and offers, share something that would get your audience thinking. For example, talk about your company’s principles and values. That will give your customers the impression that they “know” your company and as a result, they will develop a stronger sense of loyalty towards it.
Interact with your audience, inquire about the latest products and share apologies in case your company makes a mistake. Trust me; customers can easily forgive companies for poor quality or bad choices as long as the company does enough to rectify the mistake.
Also, make sure you post consistently and keep reminding your customers about your brand and the latest ventures.
Interact with popular bloggers
Bloggers and social influencers play a major role in what their followers choose, especially when it comes to brands. So, if you can get the right blogger to promote your product, you might be able to increase your sales in no time. You’ll also gain the trust of several potential customers as well.
One mistake you’re making as a retiree
Believing everything social media says
There are two extremes in this regard. On the one side, most of the retirees don’t believe anything social media says, but on the other side of the scale, you’ll find people believing everything they find on social media. In this section, it’s the latter group that I address.
Just because people share news on social media, doesn’t mean social media is a news channel. Yes, there are some academic experts who voice their opinions regarding current affairs. However, if you’re not selective about the information you uptake, you could feed your mind very toxic and twisted ideologies.
How can you make better use of social media?
Use Tumblr and Pinterest to learn a new skill
These two platforms are filled with ideas about various things such as art, craft, cooking, gardening and they even share book recommendations. Since you’re retired, now is the best time to occupy yourself with fun and relaxing activities. In case you’re thinking, “I’m not artsy,” you should know that you can even find ways to improve your car in those apps.
Keep in touch with your grandkids
Your grandchildren probably share the events of their day on social media. I daresay they’re more active on apps such as Instagram and Snapchat than on Facebook. So, make use of this opportunity and try to strengthen your bond with them.
The social media pundits
Nowadays, you’ll find a plethora of businesses, especially small ones, marketing and selling their products on social media. They share content that could either instantly or gradually draw customers towards their brand and try to establish how or why their product is a “must-have.”
One way of achieving that using contemporary marketing tactics is to promote products through bloggers. As a result, small businesses are able to gain trust in their product and its quality from their consumers and potential consumers.
Celebrities use social media to keep their fans updated about their latest activities. That way, they can enjoy undying fandom and maintain their value in the celebrity world. So, it isn’t surprising that some of the most-followed social media accounts belong to famous people. For example, as of 2019, Cristiano Ronaldo holds the largest number of followers on Instagram, followed by Ariana Grande.
Sometimes, they even use social media for paid promotions as that would be an extra source of income for them. Moreover, they also use their social platform to encourage their fans to check out their recent film, song or even interview. It’s because of doing such things that celebrities like Kim Kardashian are currently worth $350 million.
Most aspiring artists don’t have the resources to organize exhibitions to promote their work. So, they use social media to do that instead.
They share their work on social media and ‘tag’ some of the market leaders, hoping to have their work recognized. When that happens, these artists go on to publish their work on a large scale under the supervision of professionals.
Sometimes, artists even take customer orders to customize artwork and earn a living through it. So, if you come across an account as such, make sure you praise their work even if you can’t afford to buy anything from them.
Influencers are responsible for improving many of the youth’s worldviews. However, if you’re not careful about the influencers you follow, you might end up damaging your worldview instead. For instance, many “fake” influencers promote superficial thinking that has resulted in a torrent of anorexic young girls.
So how do these influencers make money?
If you look closely, they usually sell content like e-books, podcasts, and webinars for a small price. That is mainly how they earn a living off social media.
Some of the more popular influencers become brand ambassadors and earn a living by promoting a particular brand. That is why some influencers are always seen carrying or wearing a certain brand.
Old-fashioned promotional strategies didn’t have a far-reaching impact and were very expensive. But, with social media, that isn’t the case. So, even publishers have jumped on the bandwagon and are using it to their advantage.
For example, companies like Penguin Books share excerpts before the official launch of a book. That way, they can build up enough anticipation in their customers so they purchase the latest issue.
The downsides of social media
It gets you hooked
Recent research has proven that people experience the release of dopamine when they open their social media apps. Dopamine is a hormone that makes us feel pleased and happy. Therefore, people keep opening their social media apps just to experience that feeling of pleasure. In other words, they are addicted to it.
It feeds materialistic and superficial thoughts
Three-quarters of the content on social media features people flaunting their wealth and luxury. As a result, many viewers who can’t afford such items are left wishing they had more wealth or worse, looked more attractive.
I know of countless people who suffer from low self-esteem just because of social media. In fact, many academic experts and psychologists are now attempting to spread awareness regarding the negative relationship between social media and self-esteem.
It draws no boundaries to freedom of speech
As an individual, you have the right to say what you want and formulate your opinions concerning an issue. However, it isn’t right to thrust those words at people in a harsh way. By doing that, you could hurt someone’s feelings or end up looking like a bully.
On social media, it’s very easy to upload a comment or status without worrying about people’s reactions or response. Unfortunately, written words have the same impact as words that are spoken and if you aren’t careful enough, you could put someone into a state of depression through your criticism alone.
Encourages ingenuine thoughts and reactions
Social media has dampened many people’s ability to feel and express their emotions. Nowadays, everyone wants to follow the trend, even if the trend is pro-feminist or anti-racist. What I’ve encountered in many of the teenagers is that most of the time, they don’t even know what they’re standing up for or against.
Further, many others have resorted to using long captions and statuses to express their love. Unfortunately, that is causing people to forget how to express their love in person, without a camera in front of them.
Distracts you from important things
In order to understand this, think of the number of times you log into Facebook or Instagram while studying or working. Imagine, how much faster we would be at work if we put all distractions aside and focused entirely on the task in hand?
You might not realize it, but an average person spends 11 hours on social media! That’s almost half of your day. It’s time you reclaimed those hours and made more productive use of your time instead.
The perks of social media
There’s room for everyone
In most real-life settings, people often judge another person’s interests if they aren’t the same as their own. But with social media, you can find your own interest and a community that shares the same interest too. Perhaps that is why many people tend to make more virtual friends than physical ones. However, that is not a habit I encourage and I’ve already addressed that in this article.
It’s a great place to learn new things
If you follow the right pages and influencers, you might acquire knowledge about things you never knew before. It’s also a great way to display the diversity of the world around us.
Even when it comes to events like natural disasters and terrorism, most people find out about them through social media. One of the benefits of this is that condolence messages and words of comfort can be shared from across the world, even among strangers.
Businesses can improve brand awareness
In the business world, there is a concept called ‘barriers to entry.’ With social media, those barriers are lowered and everyone gets an opportunity to sell their products — even small businesses, and startups.
Moreover, it’s a cheap and affordable way of promoting brands. So, money and resources won’t be wasted unnecessarily on marketing strategies unlike in the past.
It’s an easy way to connect with people
Thanks to social media, family and friends are just one message or ‘snap’ away. Although that shouldn’t replace face-to-face communication, it’s still a great way to keep in touch with our loved ones.
It’s a quick way to ask for help
You can use social media, and I advise you to do so when you feel suicidal or you’re in a state of peril. In fact, there are countless cases where people who got lost or stranded, used social media to ask for help.
How can this information help you?
Social media is a significant part of our day, and there is no way we can deny that. So, it’s important that we learn how to make the most of it, and become aware of our mistakes when we use it.
As a result, you might gain a fresh perspective on social media. After all, it isn’t as terrible as most people claim it is. However, there are some disadvantages like those I mentioned earlier. If you pay a lot of attention, you might be able to recognize those disadvantages and prevent them.
Further, social media is an excellent place to build your own identity. You could use it to share your thoughts and opinions, as long as you make sure nobody gets hurt in the process. I believe that could also eradicate the identity crisis that many people go through nowadays.
The bottom line
Everything in life has its pros and cons. Social media is no different. It all comes down to you as an individual. If you’re wise enough to choose the right people to talk to and you dedicate a fixed part of your day to browsing, you’ll be saved from its downside.
However, if you give into trends and social pressures, you might end up depriving yourself of food and happiness. Also, don’t fall prey to marketing tactics and waste your money on products that you won’t ever use.
If you’re older, I advise you to use social media in a way that will help you make better use of your time and your personal life. The creative ideas and thought-provoking platforms could entertain you for hours, as long as they are within boundaries and won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.