The world is using social media now more than ever, with over 2.45 billion people actively using Facebook — and that’s just one of the many social platforms. Some people regularly obsess over gaining followings and likes, or wonder what their next post is going to be about.
Whether we like it or not, social media usage is intrinsically linked to our mental health. In this article I’ll be discussing some of the negatives and positives of social media that are important to keep in mind as a user today.
It’s no surprise that social networking sites are engineered to be habit forming; creators have spent years establishing their brands, so of course they want users to tune in as much as possible. The reason that these sites are so addictive comes down to a natural social human behavior: FOMO, or fear of missing out.
Social media feeds our need for social validation and causes a feeling of missing out if we’re not logged in. According to research from Michigan State University, even short engagement with a Facebook-related image can result in a pleasurable response, which may activate social media cravings.
The addictive nature of it is not helped by how easily we are able to continuously tune into social media. We can log into our accounts through our smart TVs, phones, iPads, computers, laptops, etc. It’s everywhere.
It lowers self-esteem.
When you’re constantly exposed to idealized versions of other people’s lives, it can be difficult not to compare your life to theirs (even when they aren’t realistic depictions). We judge ourselves in comparison to others, and it’s terrible for our mental health. Psychologists have found evidence linking social media usage to body image concerns.
It provides a creative outlet.
Social media is not all bad, though. It can be a fantastic way to express yourself. It’s a great place for creative souls to share their work and build a following. Many people have become successful by showcasing their talents over social media, and Instagram is a perfect platform to facilitate this; it reached over 1 billion monthly active users in 2018.
Make sure you fill your social media feed with the right types of people who inspire you and fill you with joy. I believe that doing so will make the internet a healthier place. Creativity is positive, and social media platforms can encourage this when you use them intentionally.
It offers opportunities for friendship and love.
Individuals have been finding love online for many years now, and research even suggests that online relationships may last longer than traditional ones. Social media has the ability to foster a sense of community, even when people do not have one in real life. There are many online forums that are formed for certain groups — e.g., religions, sexuality, etc. — and these groups can allow people to feel less alone.
Social networking can be a solution for people who want to communicate from the comfort of their own homes. Social media can prevent them from becoming totally isolated. There is a prevailing belief that social media makes us less social; however, when used in small quantities, I believe we are simply socializing in a different way, not less.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are incredibly powerful, and they can have a negative impact on our state of mind if we don’t know how to use them. Social media has the power to make you feel isolated and alone; however, it also has the power to make you feel the opposite. It’s all about how you choose to use it, and how you choose to consume the media that you are exposed to online.
It’s important to step back from the digital world every now and again so that when you do log back in, it’s a positive experience.