Social media has always been under active debate about its impact on people’s mental and real lives. While social media was originally meant to connect people across geographical lines, users have also been exhibiting adverse effects of excessive use.
We brought in health experts to discuss the psychological effects of social media on users, and here are their professional opinions.
1. Constant Comparison
Social media can have a negative effect on our mental health as we are constantly comparing our own imperfect selves with the highly polished, perfect, and crafted messages we see on social media by others. It can lead to unrealistic expectations and low self-worth.
2. Connection With People and Communities
On the contrary, there are ways to use social media in a positive way to support other people, stay connected to others and get involved with like-minded communities.
When using social media, it is critical to ask yourself, “what am I getting from this interaction?” If I find myself feeling worse about myself, then it may be time to reduce time spent on social media.
Cara Maksimow, (LCSW, NJ) Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Clinician, Author, and Speaker. Owner of Maximize-Wellness.com
3. Lowers Self-Esteem
Social media lowers self-esteem and eventually leads to depression. People post to feel a sense of belonging in their social circles and seek validation from other people. When they don’t receive positive feedback, or not many people liked their posts, they would feel something is wrong with them.
Social media makes it easy for others to comment on other’s posts, and sometimes, people leave hurtful comments. Hurtful comments affect people’s thoughts and feelings.
Kevin Daly, Marketing Manager Zevo Health
4. Leads to Feelings of Inferiority, Creates Body Image Issues
Social media has completely transformed our lives, for better or for worse. Working as an eating disorder psychotherapist, I’ve seen the destruction it can do for some. Only being exposed to the most perfect moments of others’ lives can lead to feelings of inferiority, especially with body image, and impact self-esteem. Social media also perpetuates people seeking external validation.
In addition, I have found that when people actually get together in person, they have trouble enjoying the moment and stay on their phones (i.e., taking photos to post online, checking who responded to them, etc.) It has eroded people’s ability to communicate effectively, thus handicapping their chances at healthy relationships.
Rachelle Heinemann is a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and depression, anxiety, relationship struggles, and career stress. She is the host of the podcast; “Understanding Disordered Eating” and serves on the board for IAEDP-NY (International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals).
5. Isolation and Deprivation
Having 2000 friends on social media apps does not mean you are well connected. It only defines the number and quality of spy cameras you are permitting to peek into in your life. We are alone more than ever and feel left out when we see people jamming out there. Owing to the comparisons and sense of deprivation threw us in the vortex of self-doubt.
6. Loss of Individuality
We are no more the real “us”. We learned the art of faking our expressions as per the trending demand. This purposeless appearance of social media is eating up our minds and creativity, leaving it null and void.
7. No Compassion
The deep-rooted empathy and closely knitted relations got replaced with connections and subscribers. We stand on the roadside to film an accident that can bring us views. Social media ate up the courtesy of uplifting each other mentally, socially, and emotionally.
The devaluing of moral and ethical principles is causing a loss of peace of mind. Stress, anxiety, and depression originate when there is hope and productivity. Man is a social animal until it is about helping each other.
Amelia Alvin is a practicing psychiatrist at Mango Clinic- Health & Wellness Clinic.
8. Created Hypersensitivity and Hyper-Critical Feelings About Oneself
Social networks, ranging from Instagram to Twitter, have made us hypersensitive and hypercritical when faced with our own challenges or downfalls. In this digital generation, we are completely over-exposed to this sense of comparison that is forced upon us. Suddenly we are comparing ourselves to every influencer, every celebrity, and every social post that we scroll across.
Unsurprisingly, this feeling of not being good enough, not achieving enough, or not progressing enough has a major impact on our mental health, our self-image, and our overall sense of self-worth. The only way to unlearn this pattern of thinking is to stop holding social media to such a high standard and reassure ourselves of the real world.
Charlotte M., Social Media Analyst and Manager at Naked Nutrition
9. Increased Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
As humans, we are always seeking acceptance, love, and value. Instead of assessing our progress towards these goals based on in-person interactions and achievements, social media has given us a space to be compared, accepted, or rejected 24 hours a day. It has strangely quantified the importance of what we contribute through likes, and social media can absolutely increase stress, anxiety, and even depressive symptoms.
My work as a therapist regularly involves helping people set boundaries with social media and tune in to what they feel about their worth offline.
Meredith Waller is a therapist specializing in anxiety, self-esteem, and relationships. She is also the owner of Rooted Wellness Counseling
10. Sidelining Our Lives To Follow Others’ Public Lives
I have found that telling someone to limit their time on social media has been some of the most confusing conversations I have had with my clients. When I say, ‘let’s turn off your social media notifications,’ they look at me as if I am punishing them. If you ask me, the ‘phone to face’ action is so ingrained in us that it takes real self-awareness to stop that action. Depending on what publication you decide to pick up, you will read that an average American spends anywhere between 2-5 hours a day on social media.
We have all heard that the constant images of our friends’ accomplishments and vacations can give us a distorted view of what our own life should look like. However, I believe that the real problem is that we get so wrapped up in scrolling through other people’s lives that we procrastinate on our own life.
We have weight loss goals, business goals, home improvement goals, relationships goals, family goals that are being put aside while living vicariously through other people’s lives. Social media is slowly stealing our time away, while our own lives are falling apart.
Sabrina Victoria is the Creator and CEO of “Human Better 365” and “Her Version Podcast”. She is a speaker, entrepreneur, and author of “Envision Your Best Life 90-Day Planner” & creator of “Catapult Your Life in 365 Days”.