When your eyes are weary from a long day of staring at your computer screen for Zoom classes, responding to never ending emails, and scrambling to piece together group projects, and you finally collapse into the cushy comfort of your bed you’re probably craving a break from it all. Nothing feels more relaxing in the moment than slipping into the dark hole of the endless scrolling and switching between TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Relaxation turns to stress when you glance at the time and see that hours have slipped away through the mindlessness of late night distraction.
The music-laden, hilarious, relatable videos of TikTok have become the newest way to lose hours of your precious night’s sleep in the blink of an eye, leaving you waking up in the morning with an Influencer hangover. Hidden among catchy videos and Instagram feeds lies a dangerous minefield of polished and gorgeous content that has the potential to negatively affect us. As we drift to sleep our minds are overloaded with flawless daily routines, unaffordable clothing hauls, sexy dancing videos, and airbrushed makeup transformations. There is nothing wrong with a bit of bed time social media to catch up on your friends’ lives, as a mindless distraction after a long day. However, it seems more and more that our social media feeds are being taken over by people whose main attraction is their attractiveness, not their heart, morals, motivating content, knowledge, or positivity. There seems to be nothing we truly are encouraged to emulate about these people besides their beauty. It makes sense that on these image-centered platforms beauty would heavily determine who becomes most popular. I find myself wondering if a scroll through TikTok videos of girls simply looking seductively at their mirrors with catchy songs playing in the background are actually doing more harm than good.
The constant reinforcement of beauty ideals and social media’s presentation of them as something essential to happiness and success takes a mental toll. Not only do those lost hours of sleep from scrolling make us physically exhausted, but it is emotionally draining as well. It is one thing to see the notification pop up on your phone on a Sunday indicating the scary amount of hours you have spent on your phone that week. It is another thing for the weight of influencers and microcelebrities to burden your daily life. Feeling anxious from a long day can lead you to use social media as a way to relieve this stress. However, using social media more often increases feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction and isolation. Suddenly you find your mood is worse and the symptoms of anxiety and stress are heightened and a downward spiral ensues.
Everyone handles social media and time spent on these platforms differently, and what impacts one person in one way may have no effect on another. However, if you start to notice that your late night scrolling leaves you feeling worse than ever, maybe step back and take a little social media vacation. Re-centering yourself and thinking about your personal goals, values, and family can help stop the constant comparisons to a sea of perfect faces. At the end of the day, we don’t want to look back to realize all the time wasted focusing on these people who may not be as beautiful and aspiration-worthy at heart as they are on the outside through your screen.
Cover photo: Katy Brosnan via Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok