Author: Tarannum Rehal
Social media has continued to play a significant role in our lives, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite not being able to meet our friends and family as often, or at all, social media has constantly served as a platform for everyone to stay in touch. However, as helpful social media has been in keeping us all connected, it does have its downsides.
The experience of this pandemic has been different for everyone. For some, the stay-at-home orders have provided them with a way to reconnect with themselves from the everyday hustle of home to work/school and work/school to home. For others, staying at home may have provided them with a source of inspiration for exploring their hobbies, and even starting up a variety of small businesses. It becomes easy then to compare your progress and the way you utilize your time to other people.
Several studies and articles have demonstrated an increasing trend in the deterioration of mental health and suicide rates during the pandemic (BMJ, 2020). Likely factors that contribute to this observed increase include depression, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, unemployment and financial insecurity among others (BMJ, 2020). Surveys have also demonstrated an increased trend in the consumption of social media during COVID-19 and the resultant stay-at-home orders (Wold, 2020). Social media consumption and posting have increased by 72% and 43% respectively (Wold, 2020).
While the prime reason for social media consumption is enjoyment and a source of temporary escape from reality, seeing others’ posts can lead to a decline in our own mental health. For example, many have expressed that they've experienced feelings of guilt and insecurity upon seeing how others have been taking advantage of staying at home to create a business and support themselves financially. It can become exhausting and mentally draining comparing your progress with others.
Accounts such as "billionaire.mindset" on Instagram promote the ideology that life is constantly about the hustle and you have to always be in “all-gas-no-breaks” mode. Such accounts on social media push the agenda that sleeping in too late, and having “rest days” will not help you achieve your goals. This is absolutely not the case! You are a human being. Not a machine. It is okay to take breaks and recharge. You will actually notice yourself being far more productive and feeling less burned-out that way.
It is important to remember that absolutely no one flexes or posts about their losses and suffering. Everyone aims to present a picture-perfect depiction of their lives through their Instagram stories, Tweets, and TikToks. The person posting the success of their new small business probably made no profit or had no customers for the first two months. The person always posting pictures of positive quotes might be suffering from something on their own. Comparison, especially during a pandemic can be so detrimental to our mental and physical health. Helpful tips to avoid feeling “unproductive” during this time include taking breaks from social media, and more importantly, following the right people on your accounts. Unfollowing people you have never spoken to, people that make you feel worthless, and people that you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to in a negative way is a step forward in taking care of your mental health.
Whether it’s a pandemic or our normal lives, remember that productivity is NOT a competition, and progress is better than perfection.
John, A., Pirkis, J., Gunnell, D., Appleby, L., & Morrissey, J. (2020, November 12). Trends in suicide during the covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved March 27, 2021, from https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4352
Suzin Wold | Sep 16, 2., Tabitha Cassidy | Sep 4, 2., Tabitha Cassidy | Jun 1, 2., Zak Stambor | Apr 17, 2., & Stephanie Crets | May 1, 2. (2021, March 01). COVID-19 is CHANGING how, why and how much we're using social media. Retrieved March 27, 2021, from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2020/09/16/covid-19-is-changing-how-why-and-how-much-were-using-social-media/#:~:text=The%20majority%20of%20respondents%20agreed,social%20media%20platforms%20they%20use.