How is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health?
Updated: Mar 1
Since its inception, social media has tripled its user base to around 3.8 billion users. While it's no secret that social media has gradually become an integral part of our lives, it looks like social media moved our lives in a way that ended up doing more harm than good.
Why do I say that?
It's because we have that constant urge to put our lives out there. And whenever we fail to do that, the pressure of matching to our peers becomes even more intense. Furthermore, social media has readily transformed its position from mere socializing to a "mini world" where people can look for either casual or business conversations.
Contrary to all this hype and positivity around social media, health experts reveal that "sitting and scrolling all day is equivalent to smoking." To put it another way, leading a sedentary lifestyle or sitting for long hours is affecting health.
What concerns more is that many of us are mindlessly scrolling through social media for hours that's not good for our collective psychology. Still, we are not paying attention and hopping from one platform to another.
Finding it hard to believe? Keep reading, and you'll know the reasons behind the buzz around social media affecting lives.
Social Media is an Addiction
It's common to find thousands of articles about substance abuse, drugs, and even cannabis as part of youngsters' addiction issues. However, many of us still don't accustom to the fact that "internet addiction" is real. If you go by what "cognition explanation theory" says, social addiction results from faulty cognition. In simple words, people try to use social networks to escape from reality.
The reasons might be different if you are an extrovert or an introvert. But when you undergo the withdrawal phase, it shows measurable psychological effects. The timeline is similar to other drug addicts. Therefore, it is correct to say that overdependence on digital devices causes anxiety and other psychological responses that affect lives in multiple ways.
In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the potential effects of social media in teens and young kids include cyberbullying, depression that can be pretty damaging.
Social Media Causes More Depression Than Well Being
Unlike popular beliefs, social media does not guarantee happiness. Instead, the more we use social media, the less happy we feel. Social media is erasing moment-to-moment happiness that's leading to less satisfaction.
The more people use social media, the chances of losing these variables increases. On the surface, social media might seem like an immense resource. And I am not saying it isn't. However, even when there is no need, the urge to scroll is causing the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do.
Even though many things on social media can be manipulated, social media still drive users crazy and insecure about their lives. In fact, a study indicated that there is a link between social media and feelings of social isolation. And to make matters worse, the study found traces of perceived social isolation. This is what makes social media users mentally and physically drained.
Social Media Results in Comparisons That Are Toxic to Mental Well Being
Oh!! He is doing so well.
Shit!! She is looking so beautiful.
Why is he/she living a better life? What's wrong with me?
That's how the animosity develops amongst peers when it comes to social media. You fall trap of comparing yourself while scrolling feeds. You unknowingly start making adjustments in your life to measure up to the levels of your contemporaries.
One study found that users felt worse while comparing their posts to others. It did not matter if the person was doing well or bad. The users felt bad. It was totally the opposite of what we feel in real life. But in the social world, whether you are doing good or bad, you just end up feeling depressed.
Social Media is a Vicious Cycle
There is no doubt that social media can be bliss when you need to put forth your ideas and thoughts. That's how #blacklivesmatter, #stayhomestaysafe, #shareyourears became widely accepted.
However, this factor alone makes it difficult for people to live a normal life. For instance, the lives of celebrities become a talking point of discussion. Besides that, we can't think of living even a single moment without capturing it first. That's how #ootd, #photooftheday, #tbt, #tgif became an integral part of our lives.
The pressure is so high that individuals stop being human and get on a rant mode. The actions are indecent with the abusive language used often. This outrageous behavior gave rise to "social bullying." The circumstances make it difficult for many others who wish to live a simple life that's not dominated by social media.
Social Media Makes You Delusional
If you are on social media does not necessarily mean you are popular or a person with a social life. Many youngsters feel that if they have 1000 friends on social media, they are social. Ideally, there is a cap on the number of friends a person's brain can handle.
It takes actual interaction to keep up with friendships. Virtual friends don't have any therapeutic effect as that of a real friend. But with so much going on and COVID hitting us big time, the use of social media is on the rise.
Everyone is switching to different platforms to feel make themselves heard. Instagram or Whatsapp video calls are trending while actual meetings are taking a backseat.
Social media is a need of the hour. There is no doubt about that. It's helping to stay connected amidst the growing dangers of COVID-19. But things were not so great even when we were leading a covid-free life.
Everyone is becoming so obsessed with social media that they are ignoring the ill effects entirely. Let's not forget that we need to balance the virtual and real-world perfectly. Otherwise, we won't be able to overcome the repercussions of our actions.