Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has become a household name in this country at the ripe age of 29. Largely due to her un-apologetically progressive platform, willingness to take a public stance on any issue, impassioned congressional speeches, and charismatic personality, Ocasio-Cortez is both a polarizing and memorable figure in today’s bizarre political landscape. But, arguably nothing has catapulted her stardom as much as the very thing she is looking to cut out of her life; social media.
As Ocasio-Cortez looked to build support for her congressional campaign over a year ago in New York City, she tapped into her millennial strengths and put her social media channels to work. Through her personal Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, she hosted candid live discussions and posted share-worthy takes and perspectives on relevant social and political issues. In a political space yearning for freshness, newness, color, and youth, Ocasio-Cortez developed an impassioned following and rode her social media success all the way to the US Capital.
And then, all of a sudden, this week the verified social media superstar says she is quitting Facebook and cutting back on social media in general, calling it a “public health risk” which leads to “addiction’;
“Social media poses a public health risk to everybody… There are amplified impacts for young people, particularly children under the age of 3, with screen time. But I think it has a lot of effects on older people. I think it has effects on everybody. Increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism,” says Ocasio-Cortez.
She has taken steps to reduce her social media usage, both personally and professionally, including limiting her reading of social media content for weekdays and avoiding the apps altogether on the weekend. Additionally, she will look to utilize social media more so for connecting with followers and posting content, rather than reading what is being said about her and involving her. For example, she will continue her popular Instagram live sessions, but will not dive in the following morning to see what the Twitter and Facebook response was to those sessions.
Despite being a monumental figure in Washington, these are all reasonable steps for anyone to take. Studies show that the excessive screen time, need to stay virtually connected, and need for validation and artificial popularity are all incredibly addictive and influential in our brain’s chemistry. If we can learn to use these social media services sparingly, efficiently, and effectively, as Ocasio-Cortez is aiming to do, we will assuredly be better off. If she can do it, anyone can.