Virtually everyone in modern society spends a good chunk of their day on social media, others much more. This online world is a place where people can share events, ideas and reconnect. Interestingly, a UK study found that “60 percent reported feeling inadequate and 60 percent reported feelings of jealousy,”mainly due to comparing their life with others.
In fact, this seems to be an all-too- common trend among many individuals. This is especially important for those going through depression to consider. After all, showing pictures of another person’s great life is only going to make them feel worse about their own life. This can be confirmed by one study, done by psychologist Dr. Paula Durlofsky, that found a distinct “correlation between social media use and depression.”
Therefore, the ideal solution is to cut this driving factor out by doing the following: deactivate the Facebook account, unfollow the most seemingly-happy friends, remember that Facebook is a false interpretation of reality or even avoid the computer entirely.
As stated, social media is a really inaccurate representation of the lives of others, as shown by a 2015 study. Essentially, people only post their best pictures, life events and other information, leaving out all the bad and ugly. However, awareness of this reality is the first step in preventing these negative mental effects.
Even if one cannot completely cut out social media from their life, using moderation will go a long ways in avoiding these nasty emotions. One should only use it to reconnect with other people, nothing else. If that’s not enough proof, then check out these six ways on how social media affects one’s mental health:
1. It’s Addictive
Just about anyone who spends copious amounts of time on social media knows this fact to be true, whether they like admitting it or not. Many studies have found social media ‘addiction’ to fit the criteria of addiction, such as “neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealment of the addictive behavior.” Although experts are still not in full agreement on whether social media is a ‘true’ addiction or not, there’s plenty of evidence to believe otherwise, including the personal experiences of countless users.
2. Triggers More Sadness, Less Well Being
One study found Facebook use to be correlated with less happiness and overall life satisfaction. The level of these negative emotions seemed to be proportional to the time spent on Facebook or other social media. One psychologist couldn’t have said it better, saying that “Facebook conjures up a perception of isolation that other solitary activities simply don’t.”
In another study, a team that studies the time people spent on 11 social media sites, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and others, found that those who spend longer amounts of time on these sites had greater feelings and perceptions of isolation.
3. Comparing Our Lives with Others Is Mentally Unhealthy
One of the main driving factors of this feeling of isolation is the person’s mental process of comparing their life to the life of others, a mental trap and deception that most are guilty of. All comparisons, no matter how benign, were linked to some form of depression.
Awareness of the fact that social media is a horrible representation of other people’s lives is a great step toward preventing this unhealthy comparing, coupled with the practice moderating one’s time spent on social media.
4. Excessive Use Can Lead to Jealousy, a Vicious Cycle
Obviously, one of the main negative effects of social media is jealousy caused by the comparison trap. Authors of one study were absolutely astounded at the amount of jealousy found on Facebook, calling it a “breeding ground for jealousy.” One interesting thing that they’ve found is that jealous appears to be connected to depression. This goes to show that controlling the jealous emotions could effectively prevent the worse stage: depression.
5. The Illusion of Facebook Bringing Happiness
Excessive use of these social media sites, and ultimately the jealousy and depression caused by it, can be attributed to the illusion that social media makes people happy, even though it does quite the opposite. Some say this is due to what’s called the forecasting error, a behavior found among addicts. The forecasting error is essentially when one believes that a drug, or in this case social media, will make them feel better when it actually does the opposite, failing to predict their own response.
6. Having More Friends Does Not Mean Being More Social
Many people on social media sites will secretly compete with each other over who has the most friends or followers. As many already know, most of these supposed friends are nothing more than mere acquaintances, if not borderline strangers.
Even the supposed real friends have limited contact with the individual. One can only socialize with so many people, so having more friends or followers doesn’t truly add social value, or any value for that matter. All in all, it’s all just for show, so don’t be deceived by the average Joe who appears to have enough friends to make a small country.
When used the right way, social media can be an excellent tool for connecting with other people. Moderating the amount of time spent on social media, along with having the right mindset, will go a long way in preventing these negative effects.