Social media has become an integral part of our day, and our lives, it’s sort of unavoidable really. And with the relentless growth and development of new apps, it seems it will live on for a really, really long time. So, an important question to ask here is- When was the last time you felt fully satisfied after spending a chunk of time on social media? Let’s be honest with ourselves.
We’re usually left with that feeling of I can do more to get more to feel more, but I end up not feeling it. So I try again, I refresh, I wait for a bigger hit, and I keep scrolling down until I find something. But still, hours later, still not satisfied.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably wondered about the negative impacts of social media at least once. You might’ve ranted about it with a friend, attempted to search this and saw your theories were right, then you wrote about them on social media! Or even tried to cut back on social media, time and time again but in the end, weren’t very successful.
If you’re still wondering if social media can negatively impact your mental health - well, yes it can, and below are ways of how it can do just that.
FOMO (fear of missing out)
Yes the phrase is very 2010, but the feeling is still very much valid! The definition of FOMO is anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media. Think about it, there’s a substantial amount of anxiety in that feeling of missing out, whether it’s missing out on outings, events, number of followers, groups or the feeling of being an influencer. Often the core of it has so much to do with the fear of being forgotten, than just the fear of missing out, and so the fear stretches you in so many different directions, and is generally not good for your brain.
Inaccurate Feelings of Inadequacy
Life is an endless entanglement of events, possibilities, opportunities, and versatile outcomes across the spectrum of success and failure. Social media just shows you a brief moment in time where someone has achieved or is celebrating something. You’ll consciously or subconsciously compare to that, you might feel like you’ve been beat or that you’re inadequate. That feeling happening a few times a week, or even sometimes a couple times a day, is bound to make you think less of yourself. Well, the truth is, you are who you are. And you are good enough. Trust me.
I’ve caught myself skipping out on a lot of human conversations just to read the last post or check the latest influencers’ fight. We’re social animals, and we need human connection. And even though virtual life seems easier to control, easier to turn on and off, easier to connect with friends and families, it just isn’t the same as a person to person connection. The eye contact, the body language reading, the scent, the look, the deep conversations... Those are all very different from receiving a buzzzz -- new message, reply now, and feel connected. It’s just not the same.
The Here and Now
When you think about it, it’s interesting to note that as instantaneous as social media is, it is everything but living in the current moment. You receive future events, then you get reminded of memories. You witness people on a different continent doing something amazing, then find out it was a year ago. You are caught up in sharing your moment of fame, that you miss your moment altogether. Our minds are stretched so thin trying to gather all of this information that seems so important, but what about your body? What about what you’re feeling now?
To end, it’s important to note these aren’t even close to all the ways social media can cause deep stress in our lives. Your sleep, memory, mood, and anxiety levels change very frequently when you’re on social media, and we didn’t even touch on addiction or cyberbullying!
At O7 Therapy, we would love to see you living better and feeling better, and we want to provide you with the care and support you need, when you need it. Check-in for Social Media is Stressful, Part 2 - where we’ll talk about how to survive the social media impact on mental wellness.