Disconnecting From Social Networks: Is It A Recommended Option?

Disconnect from social networks

Social networks are here to stay. Just a few years ago its use was restricted to academic fields, but today it is very difficult to meet a person who does not have at least a profile in any of them.

It could even be said that the way we present ourselves on social networks can begin to be considered another part of identity: the digital one. But to what extent does this coincide with what we consider to be our “real” identity?

In this article we will elaborate on this and other issues, placing special emphasis on the benefits we could obtain if we disconnect from social networks Or at least, to dedicate more time to our “analog” life, to the detriment of the digital one.

Disconnecting from social networks: what does it mean?

Social networks have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. Since its appearance in the first half of the last century, the world is a much more interconnected place, to the point that we know what is happening on the opposite end of it in just a few seconds. It can also be said that have contributed to promoting freedom of expression and even to the construction of knowledge since it is now the product of many millions of users sharing information simultaneously.

This transformation of new technologies has progressively displaced television and other traditional media, and has raised scientific questions about the way in which it can affect those who use them. And the flip side of the matter is that there are users who, for one reason or another, spend too much time on these online platforms; which affects the way they relate to other people in their real lives.

Being a still recent phenomenon, there are still many doubts and controversies regarding the way in which its use can compromise health or quality of life In this article we will address six potential benefits of disconnecting from social networks, according to what science says on the issue.

1. Establish relationships with people around you

All social networks allow you to establish communication with anyone, no matter how physically far away they are, directly and without further ado. This is an advantage that was unthinkable a few decades ago, and it makes the world a smaller (although less private) place. Despite this progress, the paradox arises that sometimes it can end up distancing us precisely from those who are close, such as family and friends.

The more time we spend on the Internet, the less time is dedicated to those who live with us, which can impact the ties that bind us to them. And although networks can be an important source of support (especially during the adolescent stage), it is still key to reconcile their use with life in the everyday environment, in which we build our daily lives. In no case should they be two incompatible realities, despite the fact that this often happens.

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Disconnecting from social networks, reducing the number of hours spent sharing content or receiving content from others, is an opportunity to strengthen ties with the people closest to you. It is necessary to keep in mind that the quality of a link is measured by the time shared, and that most of the contacts that are born on the Internet tend to be diluted before materializing in a relationship outside of it.

2. Communicate face to face

Social networks have their own ways of communicating, which become popular among their users and the community as a whole. In recent years, terms such as “hashtag” or “trend topic” have proliferated to describe functionalities that are their own, and that have crossed the jargon barrier to place themselves on the stage of “pop” culture. So, These media have established a unique and recognizable language to which figurative elements also contribute to transmit emotions (the well-known emojis) and compensate for the almost total absence of non-verbal cues.

Although each social network emphasizes a different aspect of the communicative act (from the use of the written word to images), and all seek immediacy in their way of relating to the user, None of them offer experiences even remotely similar to a face-to-face meeting between two people that share a physical space. Not even through the insertion of videoconferencing or other similar technologies.

Communication between human beings involves both verbal and non-verbal aspects, which are largely imitated by social networks, but incorporating an endless number of different nuances (proxemic, prosodic, etc.) that none has managed to reproduce accurately so far. current.

Considering that Social skills are developed through practice with our peers in everyday environments it is possible that an excess of networks (along with a lack of real interactions) could hinder the development of such an important capacity.

By reducing the time we spend online we test and improve our way of establishing interpersonal relationships in real life, which is essential to forge close ties or to progress in academic and professional areas.

3. Contextualize reality

Social networks inflame users’ desire for admiration, to the point that some scientific studies have described many of the dynamics that develop in them as “narcissistic behaviors” The truth is that on the networks we all want to show our best version, or at least the least bad of all the possible ones, this phenomenon being more notable in adolescents (since they are in a period that is especially vulnerable to rejection and sensitive to social pressure). .

Very often, People compare their lives with what they see on the networks, without realizing that they are a window that does not represent at all the reality of whoever is shown there. Images of fascinating trips, expensive clothes or an elegant sunset in a paradisiacal landscape do not imply that fascinating things happen on the other side while our lives go by in absolute mediocrity; but rather the selection of the content that is published is based on an evident social desirability.

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An example of this effect (harmful to the self-esteem of vulnerable people) is found every Christmas on television news, when an army of journalists rush to the lottery administrations to interview those who have been awarded a prize. important.

The probability that it “touches” is ridiculous, but it is distorted when it is shown publicly, generating a cognitive error that places it on a different ground (more probable than it really is). Well, something similar happens on the networks when we are constantly exposed to information about how wonderful the lives of others are, in contrast to our own.

Social media distancing It allows us to focus our attention on a much more real life, which is the one that surrounds us, in which we witness more clearly the fortune and misfortune that inhabit the world. This returns us to the precise coordinates in which things unfold, beyond the showbiz with which each person decides to show their digital personality.

In fact, many studies have related this problem to the feeling of injustice and the erosion of self-esteem, which can be distally related to depression and anxiety.

4. Avoid addiction

Although there is still no consensus in the research community, many believe that Social networks can stimulate addictive behavior among their users This would be explained through characteristics such as the immediacy with which the reinforcements are given (social approval with a click on the “like” button), its easy accessibility, the simplicity of its interface and the participation in communities that give the person a sense of belonging. There are even some networks that include simple games, whose purpose is none other than that users stay inside as long as possible.

Many authors have described that the abuse of social networks bears a great similarity to phenomena that occur in toxic addictions, such as: tolerance (progressively greater use of any of the platforms) and withdrawal syndrome (a significant discomfort). when it is impossible to access the network from any device). This group of symptoms reduces involvement in other activities of daily living, such as family or work, and conditions the time spent sleeping or practicing physical exercise.

When the appearance of these problems is evident, it is essential to visit a mental health professional so that an individualized treatment can be articulated, leading the person towards responsible use of these tools (which can be particularly useful when used appropriately).

5. Protect yourself from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem

Many studies have found a relationship between the time spent using social networks and depressive symptoms, although the exact dynamics underlying the finding have not yet been clarified. In any case, there seems to be a certain consensus that the use of networks does not in itself represent a factor that deteriorates the mood, but rather that it everything is subject to the way in which they are used

Networks are, therefore, a double-edged sword: they provide positive or negative things, and whether one or the other is received will depend on what the user does during the time they remain in them.

In the last decade, standardized protocols have been created to detect, through the use of social networks, the profiles of users who may suffer from depression or express self-harming ideas, with the purpose of identifying people with a special suicidal risk. It is expected that in the coming years all these tools (which are based on the principles of artificial intelligence applied to language) will be used to offer secondary prevention interventions (in the early phases of a potential disorder).

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A relationship has also been observed between anxiety and social networks, particularly when their use has the objective of dealing with difficult emotions for which alternative and adaptive coping mechanisms are lacking. There is some work that even relates the number of profiles available (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with the autonomous activation of the user, who would perceive an overwhelming demand when trying to take care of all of them in the way they would like. do it.

The use of social networks should, therefore, be moderated among people who have a depressive or anxious disorder. It is still unknown exactly how these phenomena are related, since most of the research that has been done to date is based on correlational analysis, which does not allow drawing a cause and effect relationship. Thus, the use of networks could precipitate the problem, or perhaps it would be the mental disorder that would be motivating the abuse of the Internet. Self-esteem could be at the base of both assumptions.

6. Prevent sedentary lifestyle and insomnia

The use of social networks is, generally, a sedentary activity. To write a tweet or upload a post to Facebook, the person does not have to make any physical effort, so the time spent on these platforms is inversely proportional to that invested in sports activities. This problem is very important especially in children many of whom already have their own online profile, since they need exercise for healthy development.

On the other hand, there is also evidence that excessive use of social networks can reduce the time spent sleeping, or make it less restful.

This finding could have three possible causes, namely: cognitive hyperactivation during the hours close to bed (due to performing mentally demanding tasks on the Internet), staying connected until the wee hours of the morning (subtracting time from rest) and exposure to screens that project excessive light onto the retina. All of this can alter circadian rhythms regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus and the production of melatonin from the pineal gland.

Disconnecting from social networks can be the perfect occasion to dedicate time to activities that contribute to improving our general physical condition, as long as the use being made of them prevents a healthy life. As we pointed out, all this is more important in children, because by participating in symbolic play (along with their peers during real life) they contribute to the maturation of their nervous system and the development of skills necessary for a full social life (which It also results in greater body movement and optimal physical condition).