Truth be told, I never really used social media.
Sure, I opened a few accounts for the sake of this website, but I honestly can’t say that I particularly enjoy spending my time on social media.
It all started when I was in middle school and social media became all the rage around, people started adding other people on Facebook, things were crazy.
Yet I never really bought into the hype.
The idea of having all of my information laid bare to others seemed wrong, or maybe even perverted in nature.
I recall mentioning once that I had 27 Skype contacts on my list in a conversation, and some girl overheard me and exclaimed in shock “27? Isn’t that too little? I have at least 120!”
I could only stare at her.
120? When does she find the time to speak with 120 people? Even with just 27 people to whom I spoke at least once or twice a month. Quite frankly, the task seemed overwhelming.
So I decided to ask her about it.
“Isn’t that a bit much?” I asked “How do you find the time to talk to all of these people?” she raised an eyebrow and looked at me as though I was an idiot
“What do you mean?”
It was that moment right there that made me realize that I wanted nothing to do with social media. These people weren’t her friends, they were guys she supposedly knew, yet you can’t really catch up with 120 people every month, that’s crazy!
Now, I know that Skype is not a social network, but this conversation goes to show how much our ideas of communication have changed over the years.
Not all of these changes were positive though.
In fact, social media can actually harm our mental health!
Facebook, in light of recent studies, already admitted that their network is might harm your mental health.
Other social networks are exempt from these findings either.
But why is that? Why does social media cause depression and anxiety, or at the very least, increase the risk of experiencing either disorder?
1) Numbers in your face
Warren Buffet, a genius investor that is worth 64.4 billion dollars, was once asked in a student Q&A in his visit, Along with Bill Gates, how much money he has on him at the moment.
His reply? 500$, but only because it was poker night.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the world’s richest man, said he has on him 40$ at the moment.
Two of the richest, most successful men in the world, normally don’t carry on them more than 100$.
You see, people have the psychological tendency to look for validation for whatever action it is that they are doing.
People who aren’t well-off tend to have more cash on them because, be it consciously or subconsciously, they are trying to look and feel more well-off than they actually are, even if they are the only ones that know about this.
They buy cars they can’t afford out of frustration and houses they could never hope to pay the mortgage for due to their lavish lifestyle and overall level of income.
People who are rich and successful don’t need to see money or some other justifications to know that they are rich and successful.
This same principle applies to social media as well.
The numbers are not real, they don’t amount to anything, yet you are valuing them so much even without meaning to.
Don’t believe me?
Tell me this, then: Why do you care so much about likes, downvotes, and shares? Online marketers might care about these numbers, but why do you?
Why do you add people to your friend list even though you barely know them?
There is a very simple answer to all of these questions.
Likes, friends and shares on social media serve as a form of validation, so much so that they actively control the way that you feel.
The truth is that these numbers only exist on the internet and have no effect on your life, so stop caring so much about them and start focusing on things that are actually important.
Speaking of which…
2) Social media distracts you from what truly matters
In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown, the author describes, among other things, a scene in which he meets an old classmate.
The two start talking but after a while, the classmate gets a short text message to which he simply has to reply, despite being in the middle of a conversation.
It comes down to the point where Greg gets pretty pissed off and leaves, ending their meeting.
The classmate hasn’t even noticed that he left.
Funny thing is, that’s pretty much how social media works these days – Despite being more connected than ever before, we are ultimately alone.
This story actually serves another purpose, to demonstrate how social media controls your life.
When it comes to social media, we are more often consumers than producers.
In other words, for most of us social media is a waste of time.
You aren’t getting things done, you aren’t living your life, you aren’t resting, spending time with your family or improving yourself in any way.
It should be noted that being active is a great way of overcoming depression, and being inactive…
Well, you get the picture.
3) You are always being judged. Always.
This age of information brought us many great things.
Learning has become easier than ever, scientific discoveries are constant and many daily tasks can now be accomplished with a click of a button.
It is unfortunate that just as many bad things can be done to us with this level of ease.
There are many examples to demonstrate this fact, but none of them shines through quite as much as social media.
All of the points that I have made thus far are directly derived from this single issue.
When using social media, all of our information is laid bare for the entire world to see.
We choose what information we share, but all of it is being processed by others.
They are free to comment and share our photos and updates in whatever way that they see fit – and this can be extremely stressful.
The people on the internet may spread rumors, make fun of us and completely ruin our reputation in just a few hours.
Sure, this may be an extreme case scenario and has been true ever since the internet became common regardless of social media, but it is still something that happens around us all the time.
Also, social media actually makes this entire process so much easier.
There are entire politics around social media to consider as well.
A few misplaced words in a post or a bad photo and you are pretty much done.
Social media? Ha! More like social anxiety!
The sheer weight of being judged by others all the time can be overwhelming.
Social media can be a force for good
Thus far I have listed multiple disadvantages of using social media, but that isn’t to say that social media is all bad.
It really is not.
Rather, social media is to be used as a tool.
Sharing thoughts, opinions and content has never been as easy as it is with social media.
Engage with others, keep in touch with people and get in touch with the best and brightest, all from the comforts of your home.
Many people use social media to find new jobs, get their questions answered and entertain themselves.
These platforms are commonly used by many and for a good reason.
Not only that, but there are even people who claim that social media actually helped them overcome their mental disorders!
Wrap your head around that one
Use it responsibly
So what is the verdict – Can social media cause depression and anxiety? Yes, absolutely.
Is social media all bad, and should be avoided entirely? Absolutely not.
As I have said earlier, social media is a but a tool, and much like any other tool, it can be used for both good and bad.
It all depends on the person who uses it.
And that’s exactly the point that I have been trying to make here.
Another great point that I wanted to make is that social media is rarely the sole cause of a condition.
Rather, it is likely that you were already experiencing certain mental disorders, with social media only making these experiences worse.
If you truly want to overcome your condition then getting off social media is only the first step.
I would highly recommend checking out the Panic Away Program.
In it, you will find a guide on exactly how to overcome your condition, be it anxiety, depression or even a combination of both.
I have used it myself and I can’t recommend it enough, you should definitely check it out!
Before you go, here is a quick question – Do you think that social media affects you negatively?
Given everything that we have discussed here this seems to be the most important question.
Feel free to share your answers in the comment section below!
If you got any further questions then feel free to send me an email!