Thoughts on Social Media: How it Affects You

Hey everyone, I hope you’ve been having a good week!

Last week, I talked a bit about the consequences of social media, and such. This week, I want to talk about how social media can affect our mental health.

According to The National Center for Health Research, those who go onto social media apps about 58 times a week are three times more likely to feel socially isolated, in comparison to those who only went on about 9 times a week.  Another study found greater Instagram usage lead to more issues with body image and greater self-objection. On top of that, the University of Pennsylvannia conducted a study which found that those who used social media more felt more isolated, while those who used it far less had a more positive overall outlook on life.

Why is it that social media, something that is meant to connect us with our family, friends, or others from around the globe, is causing so many issues with our mental health? Especially during times such as these, it’s even more important than ever to have the ability to connect with other people, and so naturally, there will be more screen time devoted to social media.

One obvious reason why social media can affect our mental health is because of our access to information, good and bad. It’s easier for us to get up to date reports on current events, and with the pandemic, these reports aren’t always positive. It can be hard to not feel hopeless when you go onto Twitter and see comments about the pandemic, reminding you of the sheer stupidity of people, or even the depth of their ignorance.

In other words, it’s harder for us to hide from the truth about how much the world can suck. It’s hard to stick your head in the sand and ignore everything when the information is right there in your face. Or maybe it is easy for you to log off social media and ignore everything, I don’t know you or your life.

However, information access isn’t the possible cause that’s negatively impacting our mental health.As we all know, social media is the highlight reel of our life. We tend to only post the good bits, and our accomplishments, making it seem as though none of us deal with any hardships in our lives. It’s easy to craft your narrative online, and depict yourself to be a certain way, even if that’s not who you really are in real life.

Even if you are being completely honest about what you are posting,it’s not always comfortable letting people into the mess behind the scenes. This type of vulnerability isn’t easy to share with those close to us, let alone whoever may come across it online, whether it’s your followers or complete strangers.

As a result, it can seem as though our lives are perfect. We always get the promotion we wanted, we have the successful relationship that leads to marriage, we have the perfect children who never throw temper tantrums. It’s easy to get caught up in the perfect images popping up in our feeds, and forget there are real people with real struggles behind the posts.

At this point, you might be wondering: Since we only show the good parts of our life, does this mean we need to post more about our struggles online?

I think if someone is comfortable sharing their hardships online, it can be of huge benefit to others who may be facing similar issues, or even if they are dealing with tough times, they know they are not alone. Some people find it therapeutic to share their hardships, as they can find support during these difficult times. Although, not everyone is in a position to share their most vulnerable selves online, and that’s okay. Not everyone is going to be comfortable sharing those parts of themselves even after they’ve come to terms with it, and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with curating a positive space for yourself, as your social media is yours to use.

I think it’s also important to discuss how sometimes oversharing on social media can be unhealthy as well. Sometimes, there are things that should be shared with a professional, instead of being posted online for the world to see. People do use social media as a means to scream into the void, when really, they need someone who can help them work through their issues. However, this can also become a more nuanced argument, as not everyone can afford/have access to therapy, and even then, therapy isn’t for everyone, as it’s only one form of mental health support. It can also be unhealthy for people who follow you and are constantly dealing with the negative messages being put out there. Granted, they have the ability to block/unfollow you if that’s the case, and that is their choice and their right to do so. The main takeaway is to basically think about what it is your posting online, and why are you posting online. Is it a cry for help? Is it because you have nowhere else to turn?

In the end, even though social media can have a negative impact on one’s mental health, just like with anything else, moderation is important. There is nothing wrong with using it to keep in touch with those we care about, and to keep us up to date on what is happening. However, it’s important to set a limit for yourself on how much time you spend on social media, as with anything else in life, consuming an unhealthy amount of social media can be detrimental. Even if you need to set a timer for yourself, set that timer. Give yourself a break from being online and create something, whether it’s art, writing, baking, or even simply cooking yourself a meal. It’s important to remind yourself that although social media has become more ingrained in our lives, the life outside is still just as important in maintaining our happiness.


 

That’s about all I have for this week!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you all are staying safe and healthy!

On that note, I will see you next week with a new post!

-Erin 🙂

Medium

Prose

Twitter: @ENordhof

 

Sources:

Social Media and Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Mental Health. (2018, October 17). Retrieved May 12, 2020, from http://www.center4research.org/social-media-affects-mental-health/

Social Media and Mental Health. (2020, May 5). Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm

 

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