Have you ever experienced that feeling? The guilt of spending too much time browsing social media, when afterwards you feel the time could have been spent in a much more productive manner. Is browsing social media really the best cure for boredom? And if not, what is?
It’s no secret that a social media addiction can lead to anxiety and depression. So let’s explore this topic and see if we can find any positives to fight that feeling of guilt.
Since I quit my job and went fully freelance, I often find myself with plenty of free time. I sometimes feel as though my biggest struggle is where to direct my mental energy during these periods of downtime. As someone who feels lazy and beats himself up when not doing something productive, I often create work when there is none. Usually I head straight for Final Cut, Motion or Photoshop and create images or videos such as these:
These were made purely out of a desire to ‘stay productive’.
At other times I pick up my phone and browse social media and the internet. In the blink of an eye, 20 minutes has passed and I’m scolding myself for being unfocused and lazy.
Is Browsing Social Media Good For You?
So I decided to put in a bit of research and find out whether there are actually any benefits to this ‘unfocused and lazy’ pursuit.
Unsurprisingly it can be both good and bad.
According to studies conducted (mostly on Facebook usage) it depends entirely on how you are using the platform and also your levels of mental health. Individuals with high levels of mental wellbeing are more likely to use social media to better connect with people, catch up with their friends and share their own experiences. On the other hand, those with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety may spend hours browsing their friend’s feeds and constantly comparing themselves to them. This undoubtedly has a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.
What we should also remember now is that people on social media ONLY POST WHAT THEY WANT OTHERS TO SEE. So if you are comparing yourself to someone else on social media, you will only be comparing yourself to the side of that person that they want you to see.
Is Binging On Social Media Good For Us?
None of this surprises me at all and seems fairly logical and straightforward. But what about those times when we go to ‘quickly’ check our notifications and end up binge watching cat videos for half an hour instead?
Now this is a little more complex. If you spend the time watching videos relating to topics that you are passionate about, for example, then this could work in your favour in the long run. You may find your mind being stimulated in other areas and this could lead to the pursuit of a new hobby or career path. If the videos or media content is educational then you could be learning and expanding your general knowledge. You may also experience a boost in creativity levels.
And if you really do just spend the time watching funny cat videos instead of working, you may feel guilt, but in that case remind yourself that laughter is good for your health. Scientific studies have proven that laughter can boost your immune system, lowers stress levels and can even help you to live longer.
So during heavy levels of stress during work projects, 30 minutes of cat videos may be exactly what the doctor ordered! So next time the guilt hits, don’t be so hard on yourself.
In many cases though, even social media can’t satisfy our minds and we may be left feeling frustrated.
So What Should We Do When We Are Bored?
Boredom is a state reached when whatever we are currently engaged in at that time is not satisfying us mentally. So should we embrace this feeling or go and look for something productive to do instead?
Firstly let me ask you – how often do you allow yourself a break from technology to have some time for inner reflection?
When you’re constantly on the go there’s not much time to stop and think, whereas when you take a break, that’s all there is to do. Self reflection is important as it allows you to assess where you are in your life, whether you are happy, achieving what you want and whether you are being true to yourself. If you can’t be true to yourself then how can you be true to others? If you aren’t giving yourself enough love, will there be enough left to share with others?
Have you ever felt unhappy and frustrated with your life but you’re not entirely sure why? It may be a recurring feeling that you just can’t shake. Well self reflection may be the best cure for you.
Since I started travelling, I have had much time for reflection. Maybe too much! But when I landed in Kuala Lumpur, got a nice apartment, friends, girlfriend, a solid job (I spoke about all this in my last post), something didn’t feel right. It was only through some solid self reflection that I ultimately decided what was most important to me and which path would make me most happy.
So it seems that instead of obsessing over other people’s lives on social media, focusing on yourself may be a better way to spend your time.
Being Bored Can Be A Good Thing
Have you ever had a great idea whilst in the shower or travelling on public transport? This is most likely because your mind is not otherwise occupied and your thoughts are free to wander.
Boredom fuels creativity.
If we never allow ourselves to become bored, experts fear that our imaginations may suffer and not be able to flourish in the way that they could or should. When kids are bored they play games and create their own fun, so why can we not do the same thing when we are adults?
Let’s all build a fort from our bedsheets and pretend that we are on an alien planet! Or shrink ourselves and take a trip on a rubber duck in a giant hot tub…
What Should We Take From This Post?
We may find that our lives are often too busy for self reflection and it is difficult to find time to get some real perspective on whether we are actually heading in the right direction. Whilst browsing social media can aid us in certain areas of our lives and allow us to temporarily distract our brains from work, it can also be detrimental to use it in the wrong ways. Moderation is key.
Allowing ourselves some ‘me time’ may actually be the best form of self help. So next time boredom hits, try doing nothing. If you find you need to write down what you are thinking, grab a pen and paper. Be your own therapist.
So not only the best cure for boredom, but the best form of therapy may be waiting for you right now at your fingertips.
NB. I am currently available for video editing and/or motion graphics work. Ping me an email if you need a video editor or if you are looking for a quote, or visit my homepage for more info. Reasonable rates offered.