Adults, Social Media, and Mental Health

Not the best way to start your day.

You wake up on a Saturday morning and instinctively reach over to your bedside table, grab your phone, and open your favorite app. The first thing you see is your middle school bully posting pictures of their fantastic, beautiful new home. So what do you feel? Jealousy? Inadequacy? Annoyance? In spite of these negative feelings, you can’t stop scrolling through their photos, and looking at older and older photos on their feed to determine more about their life and compare your life to theirs. Next thing you know, it’s an hour later, you feel pretty awful about yourself, and you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. You might even be late for work. 

Social media has a lot of benefits.

 It allows us to keep in touch with old friends, learn things about the world, laugh at silly memes; but it also has the ability to make us feel more depressed, anxious, left out, inadequate, and lonely. 

So what are some of the problems that can arise with too much usage?

Social media is a highlight reel: When someone posts a photo or status, they are not posting the dull daily moments of their life. Generally, what you get to see is photos from someone’s wedding, vacation, or holiday display. You don’t see the financial stress a vacation might cause, or a late moving truck. They don’t share their time spent in CVS buying toilet paper, or emptying the dishwasher. You are only getting the highlights.

Social Media does not foster genuine connection: When we scroll through social media, we may have the ability to know in general what is going on in someone’s life, but we aren’t actually connecting. Human beings are social creatures. We need connection in order to thrive. If we spend most of our time on social media, rather than interacting with other people, we run the risk of limiting our desire to connect with others and increasing social anxiety. Excessive social media use can actually make us feel more lonely and disconnected.

Social Media is addictive: When we post something and it gets positive feedback, it gives us an endorphin boost, and encourages us to continue to post. We are also encouraged to look at what others are doing, and to spend hours scrolling through their feeds. This can end up being a gigantic time waster, and, again, is not a genuine interaction with another person. 

So what can you do?

  1. Delete the apps off your phone. If you make these platforms more difficult to access, you are less likely to use it. 
  2. Don’t bring devices to bed. Blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle, and you may end up going to sleep later than you planned if you’re scrolling. Also, if you are feeling inadequate due to someone else’s post, it may impact your sleep.
  3. Schedule time to see people in person. This is slightly more difficult with COVID 19, however, talking to friends on the phone or via Zoom or Facetime can provide a similar feeling that does not create the disconnection of social media. When weather permits, plan a socially distanced, masked, outdoor get together. 
  4. Unfollow. Unfollow. Unfollow. If you come across someone’s feed and it makes you feel bad about yourself, UNFOLLOW THEM. You do not have to subject yourself to the details of someone else’s life if you don’t want to. 

The society that we live in makes not being on social media a difficult prospect. We can keep up with birthdays or events, see pictures of each other’s children, and even get some news about the world. While social media is not all good or all bad, fostering genuine connection and knowing the potentially adverse effects of using it can help to limit the damage that it can do. 

Social media causes a host of other issues with children and teens that we haven’t even begun to tackle here. For more on social media, mental health, and kids, check out our blog posts in our social media series! 

If you would like help with this or any other issues, contact us here or call (217) 203-2008 to schedule an appointment.

Resources:

https://www.lifespan.org/lifespan-living/social-media-good-bad-and-ugly

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm

https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health