These days, it’s nearly impossible to avoid using social media in some capacity. Though most popular social media websites and applications were designed to help the world feel more connected, they can end up making people feel more isolated than ever. As time goes on, you may begin to question whether or not you’re benefiting from the time you’re spending on your phone.
If you feel concerned that you may be too dependent on social media, consider speaking to a licensed therapist. There are plenty of accessible options, like BetterHelp. Any benefit to social media isn’t worth you missing out on all the exciting life has to offer you.
One of the biggest challenges of social media is that people generally only put their happiest moments for people to see. This creates an image that their lives are conflict-free, and that they don’t deal with the stresses that you may be experiencing in your life. It’s important to remember that everyone has difficulties in their life, no matter how they look online.
These kinds of feelings can also lead people to feel competitive, or like they need to put out a particular image to match what they see online. This inauthentic way of portraying yourself can make it harder to be vulnerable and can be consuming. The difficulties you face in life are what make you human – there’s no need to pretend that they don’t exist.
If you find yourself comparing your life to others online, a better way to explore the situation is to look at your own behaviors and self-esteem. What are ways you can feel more excited about your own life, rather than focusing on someone else’s? Your overall happiness is so much more important than how you’re perceived.
Another aspect of social media that can be both productive and unproductive is its ability to help us lose focus on our own day-to-day lives. For someone who needs a break, taking some time online to reconnect with others can be healing. Too much online usage, however, can lead to a person becoming completely checked out of their own physical life.
Escapism can happen in the form of mindless scrolling, playing online games, or even just spending lots of time talking to friends online or in chat rooms. Though it’s amazing that social media gives us the opportunity to stay connected with people no matter where they are in the world, spending too much time behind the screen isn’t the best for our mental – or physical – wellbeing.
Another social media behavior that can be detrimental is when you feel like you can’t engage with people in-person without it. Taking an hour or two while at lunch with a friend to really put your phone down and connect can make a huge difference in your relationship to social media and the world around you.
Looking for Likes
Over time, you may find yourself sharing content in order to get the engagement of peers online. Though there is nothing wrong with posting a selfie when you’re feeling yourself, doing it in order to get a particular response can be damaging. When we work for something in our daily life, we can reach a goal that gives us satisfaction and the feeling of a “job well done.” Though posting a photo or post can generate a similar feeling, it relies heavily on others, rather than ourselves.
Psychologists agree that social media usage has a direct connection to our mental health, and because it is a relatively new aspect of society that is constantly expanding, so is their research. Over time, there will be more information and resources available to fully understand the complexities of social media and its relationship to mental health.
Finding a Balance
All of this to say, there’s no reason you need to stop using social media entirely. Though it’s good to be aware of what your social media behavior is and how it may be affecting your mental health, it’s not necessary to completely cut yourself off from it. Some people do find that going break periods can be beneficial, and it’s important to discover what will work best for you.
There are different ways you can keep track of your time on social media, such as limits that you can set on your phone, or just making sure that you’re busy in other ways in your life. Finding the right balance that’s right for you is a personal choice, and only you can know what’s going to work best for you long term.