Americans have a social media problem. But when did it start? Well, believe it or not, at least some credit for the first social media platform to that the telegraph machine. With its first message of “What Hath God Wrought?” sent from Baltimore to Washington DC on May 24, 1884, the world suddenly started to become a much smaller place.
But just within the past decade, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, with billions of people around the world using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with others and share their thoughts and experiences. While social media can be a great tool for staying in touch with friends and family and staying up-to-date on current events, it can also have a negative impact on our mental health, particularly when it comes to depression.
There are many contributors to poor mental health however, when it comes to social media, here are just a few for your to ponder:
Keeping Up with the Joneses
One way that social media contributes to poor mental health and depression is through what some call the comparison trap. You’ve heard the old adage which states “the grass is greener on the other side”, right? Well, it is very easy to fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to others on social media, particularly when it comes to appearance, achievements, and experiences. Seeing others present their “seemingly perfect life” on social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, which can in turn contribute to someone having a major depressive episode.
A Little Can be Too Much
A survey completed in 2017 showed that just over half (56%) of Americans who follow the news regularly believe “that doing so causes them stress”. The twenty-four-hour news cycle along with the constant barrage of notifications from social media to our electronic devices, only adds fuel to the ever-growing mental health crisis. The constant access to news and current events that social media provides directly impacts depression. While staying informed is important, the constant stream of negative news and events can take a toll on our mental health and contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Feeling Like You are On Your Own?
Social media can also contribute to loneliness and isolation, even when surrounded by friends and followers online. Research has shown that social media use is not a substitute for real-life social connections. Moreover, spending too much time on these platforms can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
Despite these negative impacts, it is important to recognize that social media is not inherently bad for our mental health. Like anything, it is all about balance and finding a healthy relationship with these platforms. Here are a few tips for using social media in a way that supports good mental health:
There is no doubting that Social media can also interfere with our ability to relax and decompress. It is easy to get caught up in the constant notifications and updates, leading to difficulty unplugging and disconnecting from the virtual world. This can lead to increased stress and difficulty sleeping, which can both contribute to depression.
So are you going on vacation? If yes, then by all means, turn off your social media feeds! Instead of keeping your face down and your nose in a small screen, enjoy the people and the world around you. Better yet, take a cruise where there is little to no Wifi availability.
With this said, taking breaks from social media and giving yourself time to disconnect is very important. So even in your day-to-day life, set aside specific times to check your social media accounts, rather than constantly checking throughout the day. And finally, never check your social media accounts before going to sleep.
Follow People Who Inspire
Surround yourself with accounts that inspire and uplift you, rather than those that bring you down. Considering following these:
Social Media is NOT Reality
Remember the reality TV shows which were all the craze a few years ago? Survivor, Big Brother, Amazing Race, etc… Well I hope you realized that these shows were not reality. These were very well-scripted shows made to have us believe in some deep-seated reality.
Keep in mind that what people post on social media is often a highly curated and filtered version of their lives. It is not a true representation of reality — nor should you seek to mimic their false reality.
In conclusion, if you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed as a result of social media use, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. There are many resources available to help you find a healthy balance with these platforms.
Social media can have both positive and negative impacts on our mental health, particularly when it comes to depression. It is important to find a healthy balance with these platforms and seek support if you are struggling. By being mindful of our social media use, we can use these tools to connect with others and stay informed in a way that supports good mental health.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.