Over the past two decades, the technological industry has, without a doubt, made tremendous leaps and bounds. Coupled with those advancements has come an abundance of social media platforms that have inevitably shaped our youth. Though these social media platforms have had a positive impact on society, they can also have many adverse effects on individuals and groups. When most people have significant interaction with social media in their day to day life, it’s essential to reflect on what that may do to our mental health.
One of the most positive impacts of social media on society has undoubtedly been the ability to connect with others from all over the world. For most people, connecting with family members and friends regularly is one of the best aspects of platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. When traveling and being with others isn’t as readily available or safe, being able to connect with others online eases the current state of isolation. For those who aren’t able to see friends or family due to the world’s current climate, keeping up with each other’s lives on Facebook makes quarantine a bit less lonely. Apart from connecting with family members and friends, social media has also allowed us to communicate with the world around us. Having a glimpse into what’s transpiring around the world and connecting with larger communities about causes we’re passionate about brings a sense of joy and peace to people.
Another positive aspect of some of these social platforms is the affirmation it tends to give people. Whether you’re posting a photo about your family or sharing status about a recent celebration, being able to see comments and ‘likes’ from followers and friends tends to boost our mood. Though a ‘like’ or positive statement is a very small affirmation, that little gesture can turn someone’s whole day around.
Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad. Likely more jarring than the positive effects of social media is its adverse impact on individuals’ mood and mental health. Social media is ultimately a highlight reel of a person’s life. More often than not, people tend to solely post about positive aspects of their lives, be it pictures of a vacation or a status about a monumental life even. And although those posts are out of pure joy, they can negatively affect others who aren’t experiencing such events or happiness in their life—interacting with profiles and accounts that depict perfect or admirable lifestyles can, unfortunately, make others feel a sense of inadequacy. Whether they want to look like someone or lead a different life, it ultimately can make individuals feel poorly about themselves and the energy they may be leading.
Apart from stress and jealousy, some might experience, social media also tends to cause anxiety. Having a play-by-play of someone’s life virtually at your fingertips can make you feel anxious about not being apart of that. When you’re witnessing all the highlighted events in someone’s life, it can exuberate feelings of anxiousness and ultimately cause a compulsion to continue to check on missed events and opportunities in one’s life.
At the end of the day, social media, like anything else, is about give and take. Specific scenarios online can fuel strong emotions that can alter your mood and even mental health. Take time to check in on yourself and try to limit your time online.