How Social Media Is Damaging Your Mental Health
And how you can combat it
For years now, people have been correlating the amount of someone’s social media use to their level of jealousy, depression and overall dissatisfaction with life. The basics are easy enough to understand: Because of the filtered versions of everyone else’s life—the seemingly stress-free vacations, perfect dates and delicious family dinners—ours seems to fail in comparison.
Why don’t we have that special someone? Why aren’t we getting engaged? Why don’t we have kids yet? Why is it that we can never take the time away from work to give ourselves the much needed and much deserved time off? Why can everyone else seem to balance love, life and work while we’re barely scraping by?
The argument is there, but big companies like Facebook have been relatively quiet on the issue—until now.
In a blog post, Facebook’s director of research David Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke, acknowledged that social media can leave people “feeling worse.” But as a report by The Sun pointed out further, the two also argued that how one uses social media has a direct impact on an individual’s wellbeing.
In essence, aimlessly scrolling through one’s newsfeed can leave us feeling bitter and generally bad about our lives. After all, no one ever posts anything unless it’s something grand or funny. But as Ginsberg stated, using social media to share experiences and to speak with friends can be beneficial.
“In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information—reading but not interacting with people—they report feeling worse afterwards,” he wrote. “Actively interacting with people—especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions—is linked to improvements in wellbeing.”
So the solution to social media might not actually be a social media detox… but more social media?
According to Ginsberg, the initial benefit of Facebook was the ability to connect with relatives and friends that we may not have had the chance to otherwise. And it is by actually using social media for this reason that could be great for our overall mental health.
Need a little more proof? The blog post cited research from the University of California which found that those of us who simply react to posts suffer worse mental health because of the comparisons that inevitably come afterwards. Moreover, research from the University of Michigan stated that students who spent 10 minutes talking to friends on Facebook were happier than those who just scrolled through the site.
But what about those of us who don’t actually like interacting with those who we’re connected to on social media? Why would our one-time-classmate care about how cute we think their baby is? What does it matter to our third cousin if we think her photo is amazingly taken?
Facebook is reportedly coming up with a remedy. The popular site is working on new developments that will encourage more engagement as opposed to the standard likes, loves and laughs. These developments will allow people to personalize their feeds and block posts that they think have a negative effect on them.
And Facebook letting us help ourselves? We’re all for it.