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Social Media and Mental Health

Hello my friends! Today, we’re gonna have a little chat about good ol’ social media.   Ah, social media. Never have I ever had such a love-hate relationship with anything! Whether you thrive with it, or would rather just do without it at all, it’s quite obviously an integral part of our society at this […]

Hello my friends! Today, we’re gonna have a little chat about good ol’ social media.  

Ah, social media. Never have I ever had such a love-hate relationship with anything! Whether you thrive with it, or would rather just do without it at all, it’s quite obviously an integral part of our society at this point. I have plenty of buddies who I’m pretty sure wouldn’t be in touch with me on the daily if it weren’t for our snapchat streaks and occasional Instagram comments. And I totally get the appeal – to a certain extent. Social media has given us the opportunity to reach people in a multitude of ways – it gives us a creative outlet and a way to easily communicate and reach out worldwide. It can be extremely beneficial, yet it can also grow to be harmful.

I don’t want this article to sound too cliche, because I know we’ve all heard it all! How wrapped up we are in our phones and social networks, that is. I certainly don’t want to sound like a broken record. I only write this article in hopes of bringing some information to light that could really help you all as much as it’s helped me. Social media can truly be damaging to one’s mental health at the rate that a lot of us are using it. According to a study drawn from the Statistic Portal (statista.com – Global time spent on social media), the global average for daily social media use was 135 minutes a day as of 2017. This may seem extreme, but think about it! You get back from class, work, or whatever grueling task you had to accomplish that day, lay down, and say in your mind, “I’m gonna go on Instagram for a few minutes”. You’re scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling, and suddenly an hour has passed. We’ve all been there. Now, experts are still debating whether internet addiction is a real thing. However, excessive social media use does indeed align with certain addiction criteria including “neglect of personal life, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be present in some people who use [social networks] excessively.” (- Noddingtham Trent University, 2017)

Comparison is the theft of joy. It’s a universal saying and fact. When we’re on social networks such as Instagram and Facebook, or even Snapchat, where we’re constantly able to see what others are doing with their lives, we get into a vicious cycle. We automatically begin to compare and see how we measure up to our friends. Competition and comparison aren’t always the devil – they can lead to healthy ambition to improve your own life. However, excessive comparison can be quite harmful. I can speak from personal experience that when I’m comparing myself to my friends, celebrities, or whoever happens to pop up on my feed, it usually leads to a spiral of feeling inferior and sad. A study published in 2013 by Ethan Kross (Ph.D) of the University of Michigan found that Facebook was linked to “less moment-to-moment happiness and less life satisfaction.”

Generally, social media isn’t the direct cause of mental illness. However, it’s a link to envy, which lowers personal self esteem. Low self-esteem (feeling worthless and/or inferior) is one of the five symptoms of clinical depression. Social-media is also often used as an escape, which is totally understandable. Life can get super, SUPER stressful, and sometimes it’s nice to have a distraction. However, it’s true that sometimes we’re so wrapped up in whatever we’re doing that we forget to care for ourselves. We’re so ‘busy’ that we’re not paying attention to how it’s affecting our mental health, and even our physical wellbeing.

I myself ended up cutting off social media for a week last semester. I don’t really have any stats to back up why this happened, but I felt so much better. I had more time in my day. I wasn’t thinking about what other people were doing, and what I could do better, because who cares? I can’t even see them! I wasn’t worried about how many likes I was gonna get on the picture I took at the beach today, because guess what? I didn’t even take one. I spent my time relaxing, and enjoying the moment. This was my own, personal experience. Cutting off social media had a positive impact on my life. I can’t speak for everyone who uses it. If you have had a positive experience with social media, that’s fantastic! As I said before, it’s a great tool for sharing whatever you wanna share with the world, and it’s a lot of fun. I’m sure there’s people who can find more benefits than doubts with it. However, if you’re feeling like how I felt, with not enough time on your hands, envious of others and low on personal self esteem, feeling like you’re not getting done with what you need to get done, consider ditching it for a while. If that’s too much, that’s totally okay! Y’know how I mentioned it can seem a little addictive? A study for Swansea University even found that cutting it off cold-turkey can lead to withdrawal effects such as an increased feeling of anxiety. Try limiting your use to ten minutes a day to start off, or whatever you’re comfortable with. The point is you being happy, so do whatever truly makes your heart feel healthy and content!

I truly hope this article didn’t sound condescending or weird in any way. Like I said, I totally get the appeal of social media, and I’m still having my own problems with weaning off. So, why don’t we do it together? For a New Year’s Resolution, I’m going to cut my social media use to ten minutes a day. After the month of January, I plan on going on a 30-Day cleanse. If any of you wanna try it out, or something similar, feel free to reach out to me! I can be reached at @_kaatieevans_ on Instagram, or [email protected] over email – I’d love to hear what you think! As always my friends, I’m sending you all the love in the world, and I know this new year will be magical for you. Thank you so much for reading, until next time!

  • Katie Evans

Writer’s Note: The amount of followers on a social platform you have doesn’t define you, nor the likes, or amount of people you’re in contact with. I know you’ve probably heard it before, but I promise, it’s true. Regardless of anything involving social media, you are an incredibly valuable and extraordinary human being. If social media is stressing you out, I promise that it’s okay to cut it out, or to take a break. You’re everything and more without it. You have to take care of your body, mind, and spirit above everything. So much love to you, thank you so much for reading, and I hope you got something out of this! I love you, friends!

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