Time is our most valuable commodity, so why do we waste it so frequently?
One of the greatest ways in which we waste our time is on social media. We must learn to harness social media for our benefit, without letting it handicap our dreams.
I used to spend the majority of my free time drifting through social media—and life. Like many, my infatuation with social media came from the dopamine rush that we all experience when our posts receive likes, comments, and retweets. This online feedback gives us the same warm feeling inside as when we receive a compliment, and it can become extremely addictive.
However, this pleasurable feeling is short-lived, and we need to post more and more frequently to continue experiencing the same rush. While caught in this vicious pleasure-seeking cycle, we lose sight of real happiness; happiness only experienced when we pursue our goals and share our special gifts and passion with the world.
Everything changed for me when I became mindful of my gift and passion: assisting people in overcoming suffering and achieving their personal and career goals. When this happened, and I aligned my life with my gift and passion, I was able to harness social media for my purposes instead of letting it dictate my life.
“It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.”
– Alexis Ohanian
If you find yourself unfulfilled and second-guessing if there is more to achieve in life, here are six ways in which social media could be killing your dreams.
1. Brain Drain
One of the worst feelings is when we have something important to do, but our brain lacks the energy to focus. Creative brain energy is how we generate our best ideas. It is also how we have the clarity to execute tasks at a peak level. Scrolling through social media drains your brain of this valuable energy, an energy that could be used to build the life you desire.
2. Cloudy Mind
It is impossible to feel motivated when your mind is cloudy. We cloud our mind with hundreds, maybe thousands, of new thoughts when we use social media for even a short time. Consider a small sample of thoughts we have while viewing one Instagram photo:
- Who’s in the photo?
- Do I care about them?
- What are they doing?
- What are they wearing?
- Where are they?
If we had about 10 thoughts for each photo—which is probably an underestimate—and viewed 10 photos a minute (one photo every 6 seconds), we would have had 1,000 individual thoughts in only 10 minutes of Instagram scrolling.
Now multiply that many thoughts by the amount of time some people spend on social media each day. Is it any surprise that our mind is not clear enough to accomplish our goals?
3. Long-Term Rewards > Short-Term Pleasure
We present the best version of ourselves on social media. Friends, family, and strangers like and comment on our posts, giving us a temporary rush of pleasure. However, these short-term feelings of pleasure evade us when we are not on social networking sites. Conversely, the pleasure that comes from achieving our dreams comes very slowly. We have to commit ourselves to our dreams, and validation may take days, months, and even years to manifest. However, when we do arrive at our goals after long-term sacrifices, the contentment we experience is exponentially deeper and longer-lived than what we feel through social media validation.
4. Conflicting Priorities
Actions speak louder than words. Many people talk about their goals and dreams but spend most of their free time making Snapchat/Instagram posts. If we spend more time on social media than on developing our gifts, like I used to, it becomes quite obvious why we are not reaching our potential. Identify the life you desire so that you can prioritize your daily activities and work towards your goals.
5. Missed Opportunity to Network
Some of my life’s most fortuitous moments have come from those close to me or me having conversations with strangers. The person who can expedite the attainment of your known (or unknown) dreams could be sitting next to you on a bus, train or plane. But we may be heads down in our social media feeds instead of asking them how they are doing and introducing ourselves. These are missed opportunities because we are prioritizing interacting with people who are not present to those in our life right now. We never know how the person next to us could change our life, or vice-versa. We must put down our phones and start making the most of the present moment.
6. False Sense of Underachievement
Lastly, people rarely share their lows, which can occur as often if not more often than the highs that they share online. When you are trudging away in pursuit of your dreams, do not let your ego be bruised by the perceived successes of others, as showcased on social media.
We all must walk our own path, and cannot put a timeline on when the door of opportunity will open to us. The only thing that matters is that we keep our heads down and continue to develop ourselves, so that once the door opens, we have the ability to walk through it.