The Effects Of Social Media On Mental Health
2.6B active users on Facebook. 1B on Instagram. 330M on Twitter. In this growing world of influencers and NFTs, social media is no longer just a source of entertainment. Instead, it’s a lifestyle, even a survival mechanism for some (small businesses, for example). It always starts with wanting to join a community that is a gift that keeps on giving- a platform where businesses flourish, where people seek justice, or where you can get reminders for your relatives’ birthdays. But, somewhere down the road, it becomes a nasty place where creating fake personas for chasing validation is all that matters.
Effects of Social Media on Mental Health
It is no surprise that social media has paved its way into every aspect of our lives. However, it makes us question- Is social media intervening in our lives so much that it is hurting us? Or is it only hurting us anymore? Today we talk about the unintended consequences social media has on mental health. So here we go ahead with effects of social media on mental health.
It’s messing with our brains.
If we think about it, usually there’s nothing much addicting about mobile phones except for games and social networking. And statistically, mobile phone addiction is very much prevalent everywhere. So we can easily conclude that social networking plays a massive role in phone addiction. Do you ever think that your phone vibrated because you received a text or a call, then you check, but you haven’t? It turns out that it’s familiar and is called the Phantom Vibration Syndrome. A majority of cell phone users have reported this phenomenon. It is somewhat concerning- it’s like cell phones have become a part of you.
FOMO and Superficiality
The New York Times defines the fear of missing out, or FOMO, as “the blend of anxiety, inadequacy, and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media.” Social media is bombarded with posts of raging parties and enviable vacations, often making people feel too bland or unexciting. It induces a feeling of “I should be doing that right now,” which in the worst case has even turned into a midlife crisis for some.
People often seem to forget that social media is primarily fake, and you only see the side of people that they want you to see. It’s a polished version of our reality. Social media has conveniently normalized narcissism and superficiality. People now are too focused on constructing a whole new persona and an ideal and perfect life that they have stopped living in the moment. Creating post-worthy moments to get validation from others in the form of likes and comments is questionably distorting our values.
Social media has undoubtedly become a platform for ‘flexing’ your money, the same prevailing in teens. It is pretty common to see someone proudly posting pictures of their new car, watch, or phone. Some influencers these days buy things from luxury brands, often in bulk, and show them off on social media. Unfortunately, though, they usually just rent them for some time when they cannot afford them. The influenced and vulnerable audience tends to develop a materialistic mindset and aspires to be like their role models. This is a very toxic mindset because failure to achieve a ‘rich’ life often makes people feel pathetic. Know how to be a minimalist.
The Hustle Culture
Hustle culture glorifies overworking and workaholism to achieve one’s goals. If you see an Instagram post telling you to stop going out on weekends and work, or Elon Musk tweeting about the need to work at least 80 hours a week if you want to ‘change the world, it is all a part of hustle culture. You might think, “What is wrong with that?” The truth is, modern hustle culture can be very misleading. It promotes the quantity over quality mindset. It can deceive you into thinking that hard work is equivalent to success, whereas, in today’s world, it is smart work that is more valued. Social media portrays a life in which obsessive productivity and toxic positivity are glamorized. Working hard is essential for growth, but hustling, just for the sake of hustling, won’t get you anywhere.
Constantly comparing our lives to others has never been easier. It has become alarmingly damaging for our self-esteem as we compare ourselves to all these unrealistic expectations from the internet. A very typical trait we all have is that the more variety of people we come across, the more we try to compare them to us. Especially when it comes to body size, these unrealistic expectations and altered realities make us insecure about our own bodies and even dysmorphic in several cases. Eating disorder rates have shot up, high and social media is very much linked to it. Learn about Body shaming and body positivity.
The Good Side
Now that people are slowly beginning to recognize these problems, they are also finding solutions. It is no doubt that social media has actually served its purpose- connecting people all over the world and has created an extensive community to which everyone belongs. It has given us a platform to assert our ideas and have fun in general. So it is safe to say that human interaction and socialization have been strengthened. In response to the toxic body standards floating around, some influencers promote body positivity in the best ways. Accessing resources for a better life and mental health has never been easier. If used properly, it actually helps by providing an escape from all the stress life has to offer. You can always use social media to increase your productivity or growth in general. However, you can always have Social Media Detox.
Social media is like a double-edged sword. It is a powerful tool that can build you or ruin you. On the one hand, it helps you combat loneliness; it can also increase loneliness. The force of social media is not getting any weaker in the coming years. It only makes us realize how important it is that we know its pros and cons and not exploit it. So, as you know the effects of social media on mental health, its usage is in your hands, and so is your mental health.