Why social media can be so detrimental to mental health

Why social media can be so detrimental to mental health

Many people go on social media – and then come off wondering why they are feeling so bad. This can range from feeling a bit negative to being extremely emotionally disturbed. 

An increasing number of people are also getting an addiction to social media.

This is all relatively new as the internet as we know it has only been in general use for two decades. Social media in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and so on has only really taken off in the past decade.

The number of people using social media around the world is quite phenomenal. For instance, as of 2020, Facebook claimed 2.8 billion monthly active users.

World Wide Web

Social media was always going to be a natural development of the internet’s growth. Or as it was more often in its early days called the “World Wide Web”, following scientist Sir Timothy Berners-Lee invention in 1989.

Precisely because it was considered to be like a web that captured the whole world, the concept of social media had to happen. Within just a few years of Facebook initially starting in 2004 people were back in touch with friends and relatives they’d lost contact with decades ago.

At first this seemed to be its overwhelming purpose, to get in touch with and then stay in touch with friends and family. It still serves this purpose wonderfully.

However, many social networking services have now become something that many people find increasingly difficult.

Starting the day using social media

Start every day positively 

One of the problems is when people go on social media. This is often within seconds of opening their eyes every morning.

People with strong recovery will always advise that waking to calm and stillness – such as with meditation – is the most beneficial way to begin each new morning. A problem with social media is that it can bring on negative emotions, and that’s particularly damaging if it’s how someone starts their day, every day.

So, first there is the 24/7 news that’s now relayed on much of social media such as Twitter these days. While understandably most of us like to stay in touch with world events, it pays to be aware that the news generally shows all of that which is the most negative in the world. The worst people, the worst happenings, the worst places…

So much of how the news is presented today is designed to put fear into us or cause outrage. These are obviously negative emotions that will steal our positive energy.

It is likely to make us focus on negatives rather than positives. This can include all the people we meet as we go about our daily business.

Feeling like this can increase anxiety and stress. It might even bring on or add to someone’s depression.

Self-pity, excessive pride, envy and jealousy due to social media

They look like they have everything…

With social media, we need to be aware of how it can cause negative energy-stealing emotions such as self-pity, excessive pride, envy and jealousy. We should never compare ourselves with other people.

Certainly it might seem as if those friends or that celebrity look to have it all… Yet we never know the full picture of what’s going on in someone’s life.

People will generally post words and pictures that show how well they are doing, much more often than not in materialistic terms. If someone does not have strong self-esteem in the first place it can really bring them down.

Even for someone with decent self-esteem, looking at a stream of boastful posts and photographs of new cars, stunning homes, holidays… can have the consequence of leaving them feeling less than.

For anyone who’s feeling lonely or isolated, social media can only exasperate that feeling. Seeing photos of happy families or people with their partners can just create a painful inner aching.

Posting and boasting

On certain social media platforms in particular the idea among a great number of people seems to be to show the world just how stunningly beautiful they are. Particularly among the younger crowd this has been seen to have a negative impact – as they all compete to look the most slim, curvy, muscular or stunningly beautiful, however that is defined.

In fact, this has led to one of the biggest mental health problems of the modern era – an addiction to social media. Just as with some other behavioral addictions, people are seeking external validation.

It’s often fueled by an emptiness inside that frequently is due to having unmet needs during childhood. A person like this can have their self-esteem stoked on a short-term basis through their social media posts.

Just as with a drug it gives a quick high. They post a pic of themselves on one platform or a smart comment on another and gain lots of likes that gives them a short-lived sense of the love and approval they are seeking.

Of course, everyone likes to feel loved by others – but in an emotionally healthy person this comes from within: they have self-love. For someone struggling with self-love it’s easy to see why they can get addicted to posting something that gets a lot of interest.

But as it’s short-lived due to not coming from inside, the craving for more approval comes back quickly. More and more until the person can be totally consumed with what they can post next.

Social media can get inside you

Social media can get inside you

In addition, when using social media it is helpful for our emotional wellbeing to accept that we will most likely come across people with different political and world views than our own. It’s the same in the real world of course, but with social media it can be in your face in your living room – and consequently can get right inside you in emotional and mental health terms.

As well, some people are frequently much more insulting and outright rude than they would ever be in real life with someone. Identities are hidden, so people seem to frequently lose sight of what is morally right, decent and acceptable.

This can have an extremely negative impact on people, especially if you are personally on the receiving end. Social media bullying is rife.

There is some sound advice for people in recovery – and that is to choose to be around people who are positive for you. These are people who give encouragement and show love.

Yet spending time on social media can be as if you are always spending time with people who are negative and against you. People can feel as if they are coming under relentless attack, with all of the negative emotional, mental and therefore physical consequences of that.

Social media can be useful and lots of fun too, a real asset to our modern world. But it also pays to be aware of its potential pitfalls.

Centres for Health and Healing’s professional team has helped people with all emotional and mental health problems, including various addictions.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you or someone you know.

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