Home OpinionLuqmaan Rawat Log out of social media and log in to a better life

Log out of social media and log in to a better life

by Luqmaan Rawat
Social media has a huge impact on our health which we are failing to understand Photo Tylerhousehub

World – At any given moment, if you look up from your phone, you’ll find people who have their head buried in theirs. Most of the time, they are stuck in a social media forum. Something that has consumed our lives. While we may think we need it, we don’t often realise the damage it can and has caused us.

Human beings are social creatures. We need companionship and many of us rely on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram for it. However, too much time on social media isn’t good. Aaminah Adam, a social media user, learnt this the hard way. Using Twitter became an addiction to her and many things, including her mood, were impacted.

“It became such an obsession to scroll through my timeline that I noticed my productivity around work and other responsibilities were being affected. My tweets were also reaching audiences I felt no inclination to interact with and I felt myself being sucked into a world of arguing with strangers because of their differing opinions. This heavily affected my mood.”

According to Mariam Adam, a Psychologist, there is “empirical evidence” that links social media usage to depression, anxiety and loneliness.

“Using social media has shown an increase in unfavourable comparisons between individuals and their peers, social isolation and social image concerns. These lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety over ruminating over how others perceive us, and these feelings can ultimately lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Inherently, those feelings of ‘I’m not good enough’ creep up on individuals, especially when comparing how others engage with them on the platform.”


Social media impacts everyone regardless 

There is a notion that social media only impacts those who are not mentally strong. Afterall, one only needs to switch off their phones or log out of social media sites. However, this thinking is wrong. Social media can impact someone whether they are mentally strong or not.

“Some individuals are more predisposed to anxiety, feelings of social isolation and depression and the use of social media can exacerbate these predispositions. If an individual experienced social isolation as a child, social media can be a trigger for those feelings that are already pre-existing. Those who do not have any predispositions can still develop these negative feelings. Despite it not being a trigger, it can develop from what they see online.”

Even influencers can be impacted. TikTok influencer, Maqsaeed, who has over 22 000 followers on TikTok,  feels the pressure of social media and it has also impacted his mental health.

“Initially when I started I used to read every comment and really take things to heart and I was getting a lot of hate, which really took a hammering to my mental health but then as I continued posting I realised if I don’t know the person commenting these hateful comments why should I care and make my life unpleasant. In essence this played a major role in growing and me developing as a person.”

He had to deal with the added pressure of growing his follower count while also remaining ‘relevant’ with the community. Something which has frustrated him a lot.


The age of cyberbullying

Throughout the ages people have bullied others. Be it in schools, universities and even the workplace. In the age of social media , we have cyberbullying to deal with. A new, nasty way of bullying that often leads to self-harm or even suicide.

“Cyber bullying is extremely detrimental to mental health because there are no consequences or accountability, and there is the issue of herd mentality where everyone will jump on the bandwagon. It’s bullying on an exponential scale. Anything can go viral. So whilst someone would only be bullied at school or at work, now they can be bullied, globally. That kind of large-scale type of bullying that is unique to cyberbullying is so terribly dangerous and we see it all the time.”

Adam was also a victim pf cyberbullying. Something that isn’t a rare occurrence. Although one may be able to shrug it off after a while, it was one of the reasons for Adams to log out of the platform.

“Unfortunately, this became an everyday reality. It’s so easy for a stranger on the internet to say anything they’d like while hiding behind anonymity without facing consequences. The first few cyber bullying attempts really affected me because I took what was said to heart and it played on my insecurities. I felt a severe sense of low self esteem and it took multiple conversations with people close to me to reaffirm that none of this is true.”

While being attacked online is one thing, Maqsaeed was not only attacked online but stalked. An experience that was horrifying. Fortunately in his case, nothing serious happened.  

“There were two incidents where I was physically being stalked and these people were sending me pictures of myself wherever I went  At first I was scared but then I started messaging them back and in turn made them scared so nothing serious happened after.”


Islam and social media 

Social media is something one cannot run away from. It is part of our daily lives whether we like it or not. While one can use it, we must also be aware of how we use it. Maulana Faisal Shaik, explained that while there is some good, it is all about how Muslims use it.

“Social media has its benefits but it also has its negatives. Like anything in this world, it needs to be used correctly. A knife can be used to harm someone or it can be used to chop vegetables. We need to see what our intentions are. Are we using the platform to spread positivity, following Ulama to learn about Deen or are we using it to slander someone anonymously or use it to watch and read impermissible things? We will be accountable to Allah (SWT) whether we speak evil or tweet evil. We will need to account for all of this.”

Social media can be used to give people a boost in their ego. Posting pictures and videos of their life hoping a bunch of people will give them likes. This will boost someone’s ego but it can also be detrimental to them, explained Maulana Shaik. One needs to always be humble. No matter how many followers they have.

“People often start posting about their lives to show their friends but, as we know, social media is a big world. Unless a person’s account is private, hundreds and hundreds of people end up seeing it. When these posts become viral as they say, it can create pride in someone’s heart. We know that Nabi (SAW) said that a person who has a mustard seed’s weight of pride in his heart, shall not be admitted into Jannah (Paradise). Pride can be deadly and lead to the downfall of a person in this world and the next.”

Even though Maqsaeed has a huge following on TikTok, he hasn’t allowed it to change him or change the way he behaves. He feels he is still the same person he was before everything but now more people recognise him.

“At the end of the day it’s extremely important to follow and obey your religious beliefs. Islam comes first before anything else. There’s nothing that makes me superior to another muslim because eventually we all have to answer to Allah. One piece of advice I can give is to be obedient to Allah and follow the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and you will see everything will fall into place and you will enjoy your life.”


Sacrificing our lives for social media

For most of us, the first and last thing we do everyday is use our phones. We often end up in our warm, comfy beds scrolling through our feeds. We  tell ourselves we will spend five minutes on our phones and before we know it, we’ve spent hours. Sacrificing sleep for social media can be extremely detrimental to our health for various reasons.

“The blue light which your device emits delays the release of a substance of melatonin, which makes you sleepy. The mind and body functions as one system. Disrupting this system can lead to chronic fatigue, irregular sleeping habits and poor sleep quality. When we are not sleeping properly, it’s quite damaging as your body doesn’t get to shut down and recuperate from the day’s events. This can lead to poor immunity and lack of sleep. This increases our risk of anxiety and depression. So it really creates a domino effect. It is vital your brain gets that adequate time to shut off for both physical and mental health.”

How blue light emissions impact a person Photo Kidsfirstpediactricts


When we start to sacrifice our sleep for social media, this can be a sign of us being addicted to it. Sooner or later, we will sacrifice other activities to be on our phones and this can lead us down a terrible road. Using social media without moderation can lead it to become an addition, said Adam. This can make it harder for us to “live in the moment”.

SMread: Why Learning Self-Defense is Crucial in South Africa


Social media taking away our ability to communicate    

Believe it or not, prolonged use of social media inhibits our ability to communicate effectively in the real world. Living in a virtual world constantly results in us losing “interpersonal and verbal communication skills'” and impacts our ability to be present and live in the real world.

“It causes us to put more value on virtual relationships than real ones, and we would struggle to connect in reality, which causes feelings of isolation and lack of intimacy. All relationships need some form of connection or intimacy to function, but being caught up in a virtual world causes issues in the real world. Face to face communication has not just words, but tone, nonverbal cues etc. so over usage of social media to communicate can hinder how we read others, and how we come across in social situations.”

While it may sound questionable, Aaminah has experienced this. She ‘lost’ her ability to properly communicate with people and it was one of the first signs she needed to leave social media.

“I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I am an intuitive person, however, having dedicated so much of my time to social media, I found myself losing the human element of interaction. Where I initially could identify social cues and changes in body language and behaviour, this was severely affected when my focus remained on social media. I could deduce that this was affecting my relationships and that was disappointing to be made aware of.”


Developing negative traits from social media

If we think of social media like this big virtual world then it’s not impossible to believe it can have an impact on the person we are. As the saying goes, if you spend time with bad people, you naturally develop negative traits. The same can be said about social media. Good traits and bad traits can be learned and become part of our personality, said Adam.

“Many people can develop selfish or self-absorbed traits, as their social media usage gives them an ego boost or power boost and that can manifest negatively in their behaviour. It can also change the manner in which they associate with people. On the other hand, people have become more altruistic due to the use of social media, such as in activism behaviours.”

Social media is all about sharing one’s thoughts, feelings and movements. However, it is this oversharing that can lead one to developing negative traits, explained Adam. It is important to set limits and boundaries for yourself.

“Oversharing on social media can increase the need for external validation. I’ve seen a few crazy things, and I have had someone tell me, “I don’t post my sister on social media because she doesn’t align with my aesthetic, she isn’t pretty enough” and that view is actually quite common and surprising. Remember, a lot of the sharing is quite inauthentic. Not a lot of people post their failures online. It can definitely contribute to selfish behaviours, can increase narcissistic traits and as a result, hinder people from making meaningful intimate real life connections.”

SMread: Wake up, South Africa – before it’s too late

Taking an effective break from it all

Now that we know how social media can impact our lives, it is important to know what we can do to negate these impacts. Adam suggests using social media in “moderation and with mindfulness”. By knowing why we are using it and using it in moderation, we can curb the negative impacts.

For those who feel they have fallen down the rabbit hole, a more serious method is needed. Taking a ‘social media detox’ is the best way to ensure you get out of that hole, stressed Adam. It is vastly different from a social media break but it’s the best way to “declutter your mind”.

“A detox is completely deleting your accounts or deactivating them for a while and detoxes have proven to be better for mental health than social media breaks. Think of a social media detox like quitting junk food. Your body feels better afterward. It’s the same with social media and the mind. It gives you a chance to evaluate what’s really important in your life, and to fill your life with more meaningful activities. You’re not stuck on a loop of instant gratification and constantly engaging.”

Some ways to properly get involved in your social media detox Photo Livingbreely


It probably sounds scary to those addicted to social media but it is needed. Studies show that taking a social media detox every two weeks is optimal to reset your mind. It is all about getting your mind and body back to the right place but in order to do this, the detox must be done properly, explained Adam.


How taking a break can help

Aminah went down the detox road taking a full eight months away from social media. Deleting Twitter and putting life first. It didn’t take long until she witnessed the positive impacts from stepping away from social media.

“I took a break from Twitter since this was predominantly the platform I spent most of my time on. I initially planned on deleting my account since I knew that this would be the only way to ensure I completely take time away from Twitter. I probably noticed a difference after a week already. While it was initially difficult to reform my habits and adjust to no longer picking up my phone and opening the app, I found myself feeling lighter because there weren’t hundreds of opinions and voices occupying my mind. I felt like my brain was no longer overwhelmed with content. My mental health improved because I was able to dedicate time to myself and actually have that alone time with my own thoughts and introspections, which is something I personally find peace with.”

Life is all about living and not having your eyes glued to a screen. Adam admits social media has its benefits but it is all about how you use it and it’s safe to say, many of us abuse it instead of using it. As Ferris Bueller said, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. 

Related Videos