How to cure your social media addiction

Is social media the greatest invention of the 21st century — or the newest way we’re putting ourselves and our families in danger? While the digital future promises connection that is faster, brighter, easier and more fun, it comes without a safety manual. How are we to know what’s making our lives more convenient and what’s actually making us miserable?

We’ve been here before. At the end of the 19th century, the automobile burst on the scene and revolutionized life in the Gilded Age. Cars shaped how our communities developed and brought with them the power to connect us like never before. They also ushered in a new reality of accidents, pedestrian fatalities and reckless driving. Like cars, social media has revolutionized our way of living and introduced profoundly powerful ways to connect us. And also like cars, it has posed risks Mark Zuckerberg likely had no idea about when he was developing Facebook in his Harvard dorm room.

As we continue to integrate technology into all aspects of our lives, most studies show that the more time we spend on social media the worse off we are. Not only can it lead to a decrease in happiness, it can also trigger feelings of jealousy and social isolation. Some studies have found that taking a break from social media can actually improve psychological health.

Psychologists have known for a long time that social comparison is one of the fundamental barriers to our sense of well-being. It’s hard to be happy if we are constantly comparing our lives to those around us or if we enter every experience with an eye toward Instagram-worthy shots that will win the approval of others. That behavior places control of our happiness in someone else’s hands, or in this case, someone else’s “Like” button.

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