Social media this, social media that. Everything has become social media-related. Everyone, from the young and old live and breathe social media. Fans of social media testify that they use these applications to keep up with the news and current affairs while simultaneously connecting with their friends. Social media companies show you advertisements they think you would like based on your search results. Sometimes you might even wonder whether your phone can listen to your conversations or even worse - read your mind.
We have become so intertwined with social media that we use it at almost every turn of our day. On the train or bus to work, during lunch and sometimes even in school. Social media has an even greater involvement in shaping our lives, perhaps even more than our parents! There is a limit, however, before it starts to become disastrous for our mental health.
Social Media Isn't Inherently Bad!
Humans are social creatures by nature and social media merely taps onto that trait of humans and earns from it. Millions of dollars have been poured into social media applications just for the simple goal - keeping you on your screens. It makes you wonder why companies do that when the product is free to use. More on that later. These social media applications are streamlined and made easy to use just to keep you more involved.
So What's The Problem?
There are various issues with social media, and how it affects your mental health. However, I am going to be focusing on this in particular.
Big Data has allowed you to get a nicely curated feed based on your preference. You like cars? You got it! That's a nice thing to have since you are only focused on what's important. But here's the little caveat. You will eventually get glued on to this little curated feed that engulfs your life. In terms of consumerism, the most you might lose is a lot of money, but what if the curated feed shows you only the perfect things in other people’s lives. You then get envious, jealous and ultimately discontented with your lives.
People tend to forget that social media postings are heavily selective, which means that while people may sometimes share bad things happening in their lives, it largely only shows the best parts of it. A common one is flaunting luxury items on social media. The perception that their viewers would think is that they probably are rich - but that might not be the case. Some of the items they have might be on loan, and perhaps they even struggled to buy it. But you as the viewer are unaware of that. You think they have it good. That becomes a problem. You get fixated then on what you don't have, and what you need to have to become "happy" (at least what Instagram wants you to think happiness is all about.)
Furthermore, social media has grown to make you plug your little free time to check up on your feed and not doing so may seem like you are missing out. But the reality is that that isn't the case at all, and you know it! I am sure that the last few empty minutes today was spent checking up on what your friends are up to and mindlessly refreshing your feeds - sort of like constantly checking the fridge even when you know there's nothing there.
Don't even get me started on the attention issue. If you get bored doing a task, chances are you'll browse your phone. This little distraction, even if only for a mere few minutes has shown to drastically reduce your productivity. Think of all the deliberate focus you are missing out on and how you could actually be more productive.
Social media has shown to inflict serious harm on the well-being of adolescents. Their self-esteems take a plunge because they think they need to conform to the beauty standards of their influencers or that they aren’t living glamorous lives like their friends. Unbeknownst to them, their friends aren’t either. To make things worse, you create a cycle of being distracted easily, which if left unchecked, will definitely upend your lives.
Think hard again the next time you want to check what your friends are up to. Is the cost to your mental health really worth it?