Furman Versus Productivity: The Effects of Social Media on Mental Stamina
Can Furman help combat the negative effects of social media?
We all do it…the dreaded scroll. Next time you pick up your phone to hop on Instagram or Snapchat, ask yourself “How will this make me feel?” I bet the answer will surprise you.
Unsplash // Alexander Shatov
This article is part of the Sunday Summary
newsletter. To receive more content like this a week early, subscribe here
This article is part of the Red, White, Blue, & Purple
podcast-newsletter that covers politics and policy from a Furman Perspective. To receive more content like this a week early, subscribe here
This article is part of the The Works
newsletter. The Works tracks the latest trends sweeping the student body, highlights creative talent, and shines a light on the best (and worst) aspects of campus culture at Furman. To receive more content like this a week early, subscribe here
This article is part of the Paladin Profiles
video interview newsletter. Paladin Profiles highlight the important work Paladins past and present are doing to improve diversity and inclusion on campus and beyond. To receive content like this a week early, subscribe here
This article is part of The Paladin’s data-driven newsletter uncovering campus’ biggest stories, Deep Dive
. To receive content like this a week early, subscribe here
This article is part of the Paladin Sports Roundup
, a newsletter with comprehensive updates on the Paladins and special features such as video interviews with Furman athletes. To receive content like this a week early, subscribe here
There have been a countless number of times that I have caught myself mindlessly scrolling through social media platforms while attempting to focus at the library. Yet this is not just me. Instagram, Snapchat, and various other social media platforms seem to control student’s brains and decrease their productivity. How often do you find yourself reaching for your phone for no other reason than the want of a simple distraction? While seemingly benign in isolation, this constant diversion can deteriorate educational potential and affect future career prospects. As a disciplined student, I have big plans for my profession and believe that I am preparing effectively for it. However, the more time I spend on social media, the larger hole I dig for myself in terms of ambitions.
This semester, Furman students have voiced legitimate concerns regarding mental health. While burnout and the pandemic have certainly been factors for this, I wonder if most of these problems arise from spending time mindlessly scrolling rather than doing what is beneficial for us: prioritizing education and self-care. Disproportionate social media use can also lead to the entrapment of cognitive comparison and a decrease in confidence. Furman student Lilly Classey (’24) agrees:
“The more I use social media, Instagram in particular, the more I compare my lifestyle and my body to other peoples’. This comparison has often led me to feel as though there will always be someone prettier than I will ever be, more fit than I will ever be, or have a more adventurous life than I ever will; making me lose motivation to make my life ‘better.’”
This lack of confidence not only affects the way people perceive themselves in a personal sense, but leads to a lack of motivation educationally. Through personally struggling with these issues for many years, I have found myself in certain slumps where I wonder if anything is worth putting effort into, similar to how Classey feels as well.
Furman should take the initiative to address these issues universally, as these types of mentalities are becoming more and more common across the student body. Classey suggests that Furman should provide a “class or a MayX course that talks about social media and the effects it has on students,” and I feel the same way. This could account for a credit in the Psychology or Science department, as education on mental health awareness requires as much attention as basic scholastic subjects. Though a class could not guarantee that students would be completely in the clear with comparison and social media addiction, it would help them recognize the true dangers and harmful mental effects of these platforms.
As the semester concludes, it is beneficial to make use of the simple resources provided at Furman and in Greenville to relieve the pressure and stressors that come from not only social media, but finals/final assignments. Classy finds it joy-inducing to surround herself with an uplifting community of fellow students and make use of her time in nature:
“My favorite thing to do sounds simple and cliché but surrounding myself with people that make me laugh until I cry is what I look forward to the most and what I find lifts my spirits the most. To prioritize my academics, I have found that taking a walk around the lake with a friend to get away from the screen and clear my head is extremely beneficial.”
As for me, I also love to find new, fun things to do with my friends, even if it is as simple as driving around on a nice day. Additionally, I love exploring the many restaurants that Greenville has to offer; my favorite places to dine are Ink-n-Ivy, Swamp Rabbit Café, Trio, and Spill the Beans (for dessert!). Exercise is also proven to be extremely beneficial, so getting up to move — whether it is a trip to the PAC or long run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail — is a great stress reliever.
Whatever sparks your particular interest, you can most likely find it in the Greenville area. Lately, I have been working on focusing more on myself and my growth rather than placing my worth/mental effort into comparison or cultural normality. I encourage everyone to do the same — individuality is a gift. So instead of wasting time on the Internet for hours, put down your phone, pick up a pen, and write an enthusiast to-do list for the remainder of the time, we have left in Greenville before the summer. The end is almost here, let’s make the most of it!