Is social media the new cocaine?

Tamra MerciecaBlogs, Mental Health2 Comments

‘Why am I on social media?’

Have you stopped to ask yourself this simple question?

Many of us end up on social media because everyone else is, without really thinking about whether or not it’s a positive influence in our life.

Before we know it, we’re checking our phones morning, noon and night (for most people more often) for fear of missing out.


(Fear Of Missing Out)

Yep, we get into the mind-set that if we aren’t constantly checking our phones, then we’re going to miss out on something.

Ironically, what ends up happening for most people, is that they end up missing out on life.

Yes, social media steals us away from our own life and plunges us into a whirlpool of everyone else’s lives.

We start to see everyone else’s feeds and all the cool things they’re up to; all their shiny photos… their hot boyfriends… their awesome holidays… and cute baby pics…

And suddenly we start to go into comparison mode.

We start to compare ourselves to the ‘image’ of the perfect life.

For we need to remember, that a social media feed is simply an ‘image’; it doesn’t capture the truth of that person’s life as a whole.

We just get to see a glimpse of that person’s life; their showreel.

What they want other people to see.

Because hey, we all want to be seen as successful, right?

And so what often happens, is people only show the highlights of their life.

And sometimes those highlights aren’t really highlights, they just appear so in a photo.

For example, maybe that person playing on the beach with all their friends, had a huge fight with their partner straight after the photo was taken.

Of course, we will never know.

Often, all we see is the doctored photo of the so-called ‘perfect’ life.

And so we begin to compare.

Perhaps we even get a little jealous.

As this comparison kicks in, self-judgement runs rampant.

An hour’s passed, and all we have to show for the past hour, is a foul tasting dose of self-loathing.

Happened to you?

Maybe you didn’t even notice the full impact at the time, but later in the day you notice how you just don’t feel as good about yourself as you usually do.

Why does this happen?

Because social media acts like a mirror; reflecting back to us what we need to heal within.

When a stint on social media ignites comparison, jealousy or fear in us, it only serves to reinforce our limiting beliefs about ourself.

(To learn more about limiting beliefs, and how to dissolve them, have a listen to my free audio The Art of Self-Love.)

This’s why it’s so super important to get clear on our motivations for why we do things in life, such as use social media.

Because like anything in life, social media can be inspiring or downright crippling.

So let’s return to my initial question:

Why are you on social media?

What is your motivation for using social media?

Is it to be seen?

Is a case of FOMO?

Is it for marketing purposes?

Do you feel that if you’re not promoting yourself on social media your business won’t thrive?

Is it because you feel you need to prove yourself?

Feelings of needing to prove yourself come from deep ingrained beliefs of not feeling good enough or not feeling worthy.

The irony being, that for most people they unconsciously go on social media to feel better, only to leave social media feeling worse than when they arrived on the platform.

You’d be better putting your phone down and doing some yoga, journaling, going for a walk in nature or reading an uplifting book.

Many people jump onto social media when they feel down.

They’re already in a vulnerable space.

They’re searching for something that social media cannot give them.

They’re looking for love and connection, and after an hour of scrolling they feel even more disconnected and unloved.

If you feel depressed or anxious or emotional in some way, social media will only amplify those feelings. 

I see this with my clients; it creates massive amounts of self-doubt and self-hate, as they begin judging themselves for not having the life they see others living on social media.

For this reason, when I work with a client who is depressed, I suggest they take a break from social media, and come back to it, when they feel more whole.

We are a product of our environment.

What I mean by that, is that everything and everyone we surround ourself with, influences how we feel about ourself, and as a result of that, how we live our life.

You’re not obliged to follow or be friends with certain people.

In fact, it’s your responsibility to create a social media feed that nurtures your soul.

That uplifts you.

When I first started out on social media I accepted every friend request and added people all the time.

Part of it was because I saw social media as a business building platform, and part of it was because I wanted to feel loved.

I realise now that I felt that if I had more friends or followed more people I would appear more successful (or something like that).

Of course I didn’t.

Instead I ended up with a feed of stories and photos that either didn’t interest me, or simply weren’t in my best interest.

Did I really need to see that woman strutting around in her lingerie for the 15th time this week?

So I cullled.

I cut back.

Less really is more in all areas of our life, including our social media feeds.

Keep the best, most uplifting feeds and ditch the rest.

That way there will be less to scroll through and you won’t feel as drained afterwards.

More friends doesn’t equal more connection.

It means more people to keep up to date with, which means more time spent away from my own life.

A realisation I made when I was working on simplifying my life (you can read my blog on Minimalism here), was that while I was enjoying living with less, I still had more than I needed in my social media feed.

It was overwhelming at the best of times!

As I began the cull I realised I really didn’t know who most of these people were.

Why was I following them?

Because they had followed me, and I felt like it was the polite thing to do, to follow them back.

Unfortunately in the opportunist world we live in, there is a growing trend of people following people and liking their pics – especially on Instagram – simply to get that person to follow them back.

Once they follow back, that person stops following you.

It’s practice I refuse to use as a brand building strategy, for I believe it lacks integrity, and treats people as commodities, as opposed to breathing, living souls.

It brought me back to the very simple questions:

Was the people I was following inspiring me?

Or were these people influencing my state of mind in a negative way?

It was up to me to make a conscious choice about who I let into my social media feed.

For everything we do is a choice, whether we are consciously aware of that choice or not.

Another motivation for spending a lot of time on social media is boredom.

Yet, interestingly the only reason we get bored is because we haven’t learnt how to be present.

Perhaps you’re not creating the life you wish to lead, and so you resort to living through others.

When you’re engaging in life, there is nothing to be bored about!

Even when you’re waiting at the bus-stop, there is so much you could be feeling in your body, watching around you, interacting with the person next you…

Yes, you could have an actual real-life conversation with someone, if you put down the phone!

That’s the type of connection we really want to experience.

But fear kicks in.

We feel a little self-conscious, anxious even, so we take the seemingly easy route, burying our head in our phone.

We experience anxiety because we’re too in our heads living life in the future; we experience depression when we live the past. 

To move out of each of these emotional states we simply need to be present.

The juice of life is in the present moment, not recalling that shitty conversation, not imagining that worst case scenario.

Simply being here.


That is the only way to feel true connection.

Perhaps you use social media as a procrastination tool!

Yep, it’s so easy to pull out the phone instead of doing the thing that deep down is best for you.

The thing is, while doodling about on social media or [insert favourite guilty habit here] are GREAT avoidance strategies, these things prevent us from exploring what REALLY matters.


Have you stopped to consider how much time you spend mindlessly scrolling through other people’s feeds.

And have you taken a further moment to consider, how you feel after doing this.

I know I often feel drained, and can even start to feel down on myself.

And that’s from someone who is aware of how social media can affect us!

We know that alcohol and drugs are bad for us.

Even if we indulge from time to time, we know on a deeper level, that they are not good for either our mental or physical bodies.

Yet, many people are oblivious to the fact that social media can be just as harmful.

Yes, social media is just as addictive as a physical drug.

A top addiction therapist has even been quoted as saying: ‘Giving a child a smartphone is like giving them a gram of cocaine.’

Yes, it was found that children who use mobile phones were more likely to develop addictive behaviours.

This is because technology and the programs it supports such as social media, is addictive.

And an addiction is an addiction, regardless of what the substance of choice is.

(You can read my blog on ‘Addiction’ here.)

Maybe you don’t feel addicted to your social media play.

But how would you feel about giving it up for the next month?


Maybe you could spend the half hour (or longer) you spend on social media each day, learning a new language!

How quickly would you become fluent in your language of choice if you studied for half an hour a day!

That times stacks up.

There’s no doubt about it, social media serves as a great procrastination tool, a self hate fueller and a time waster.

But with all of that said, social media isn’t inherently bad.

It’s how we interact with social media that matters.

It is absolutely possible to have a healthy relationship with social media, and perhaps you already do.

Maybe you’re on social media because you genuinely have something you feel is worthy of sharing.

Social media is a brilliant tool for sharing loving vibes, education and awareness.

And because of this, it can be a beautiful platform to help inspire us into being the best we can be, so we can live the best life we can.

When this is the case, then absolutely, social media is a positive force in our lives.

The trick is in knowing when social media is serving us, and when it is hurting us.

Everything in life has a light and a dark side.

Yes, there is yin and yang to everything.

Even the healthiest of things can become an addiction or unhealthy for us, such as yoga.

It is so good for us on so many levels, but if you enter a class and compete with your fellow participants, you could do an injury (and hurt yourself mentally as well).

Yoga can also become an addiction.

Yet, if we stay balanced in our approach, yoga can be a home we come to to recenter and balance.

This is how our ‘approach’ to what we do, is what really matters.

How we consume something.

How we approach social media, is everything.

If you do find your interactions on social media are healthy one day, and not so much the next day, you can use this experience for inner growth.

When you notice you’re judging yourself or others, following time spent on social media, this is a great opportunity to reflect and investigate the root cause of that judgement.

Ask yourself:

  • Where do I not feel good enough?
  • Where do I not feel worthy or deserving?
  • Do I even want what that person has anyway?
  • Or am I just experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out)?

Simple awareness exercises like this go such a long way in helping us gain a greater understanding of ourself.

And when we take the time to reflect in this way, then social media can be used as a mirror that helps us see what else within, needs healing.

The important thing is to get clear on, is what role social media has in your life.

What is its purpose?

Once you know, then social media can be a positive force; a friend, rather than a foe.

For me personally?

I use social media sparingly.

I’m not on there every day posting photos of my everyday adventures, for if I was posing for the perfect shot, I would be distracting myself from enjoying the perfect moments that life offers me.

When I have something that I genuinely feel is worth sharing – that will help others – then I post something.

If I see something I find beautiful while out and about I’ll grab a quick snap, but only if it doesn’t steal me away from my family and what I’m doing.

I keep it simple.

I prefer to invest my time in living more fully, and creating meaningful content for my clients by way of blogs like this, and course content that goes into far more depth than any social media post could.

I am also mindful of the fact that we live in a culture where we do anything but rest.

And social media can act for many people, as another one of those distractions that stop us taking even just five minutes to simply rest and be.

What if instead of scrolling on our phone you connected with your breath and got in touch with how you were feeling in the moment.

Would this give you an opportunity to process your day so you could sleep better at night?

Would it give you a chance to re-centre and rebalance?

Would it give you the necessary opportunity to offload some of that stress you’d accumulated during that meeting?

There’s no doubt about it, that social media can be a BIG time drain (among other things).

So my invitation to you this week, is to notice how long you spend on social media and then notice how you feel afterwards.

  • Get clear on what you true usage is and then spend some time reflecting – or journalling – on:
    What is my reason for interacting on social media?
  • Is being on social media helping me achieve my goals in life?
  • Could I change the way I interact with social media so it is a positive influence in my life?
  • Do I need to take a vacation from social media?

This exercise is a great way to evaluate what’s working for you and what’s not, so you have the conscious awareness to make changes to better your experience of life.

Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or one of the newer kids on the social media block that’s got you wrapped around its proverbial finger, I hope this blog helps to bring more awareness to your social media habits.

And please share your experiences on ‘social media’ in the comments section below.

What did you learn about yourself from exploring your purpose for using social media?

Or have you found healthy ways to use social media?

Love to hear from you!

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2 Comments on “Is social media the new cocaine?”

  1. Hi. Great article. I have been very uninvolved in social media until recently. I began using Instagram the last few weeks and I find it draining and depressing for the most part. Probably bc like your article said I tend to go on it when already feeling anxious and down. When I feel content and peaceful I tend not to reach. For my phone to look at instgram. Then once I start I can’t seen to stop and if my negative feelings were very mild beforehand they are much more intense after an hour or two of social media. Lots of comparing and self judgment 🙁

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience Stacy. I hope the blog helped give you some awareness and ideas on how to shift the way you use social media. Ultimately, when we get triggered by something like social media it is our subconscious beliefs rising to the surface, looking to be healed. So it’s not that social media created those feelings of comparison and judgement, it’s that social media brought them to our attention, so we will look at them. If you are keen to heal that conditioning, please take a peek at my Remarkable Relationships 3-month course, as that’s its exact purpose. You can read more at Hope that helps, and again, thank you for sharing. You are certainly not alone in these feelings.

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