More than half of the world’s population has at least one social media account that they utilize for day-to-day interactions. Social media brims with exciting news, opportunities to liaise, and endless engaging content. A lot of information distributed through social media is useful, yet we are also exposed to loads of misleading and offensive content. Social media platforms are where trends are set, talent is discovered, digital marketing thrives, and relationships are built. People who have no social media presence or activity are perceived to be living under a rock or in the stone ages.
While the benefit of everything social media has to offer is undeniable, the drawbacks cannot be ignored. Anxiety and depression among teens and young adults has been frequently associated with the time they spend on social sites. What we see and experience on social media has a direct impact on our mental health. We have allowed it to infiltrate and control our lives, thus we pay the price. Let us take a look at how social media links to widespread depression in our society:
1. Social Isolation
The social media network keeps us virtually connected with our friends and family 24/7, regardless of the distance. The seamless communication has helped many individuals eliminate homesickness and loneliness. It is also a blessing for socially awkward people and introverts who prefer to avoid in-person confrontations. On the contrary, it discourages people from meeting up and socializing when it’s absolutely doable. People living in the same house often choose to interact through social apps rather than having a face-to-face conversation.
2. Emotional Dissatisfaction
The notifications from social apps immediately grab our attention and build anticipation. There’s an unspoken promise of a reward every time our phone dings. Unfortunately, the notifications only bring us momentary pleasure, which is not enough to fulfill our emotional needs. Keeping in touch with our loved ones through social media is not the same as being with them in a physical capacity. It propagates a sense of detachment, which leaves us frustrated and starved for intimacy.
FOMO, which stands for ‘fear of missing out’ is a common condition observed in the youth. Many youngsters are so concerned for whatever is happening on social media that they choose to disregard the present. They are afraid of missing out on things that have nothing to do with their immediate reality. Individuals suffering from FOMO constantly have their eyes glued to their phone’s screen. They don’t care what is happening around them because they think that anything worth watching or knowing would come up on social media.
4. Self-consciousness & Envy
Many people use social media to seek attention and gain publicity; they are obsessed with their public image, i.e. they want to show people how fabulous they are or and/or how perfect their life is. They are constantly fishing for compliments and awaiting approval from complete strangers. If their post or picture does not get enough likes, or receives negative comments, their self-esteem is severely injured. In contrast, many harbor a sense of inferiority when they witness the picture perfect lives of others on social media. Even though what the visuals portray are usually far from reality, it makes viewers feel insecure and insignificant.
Social media can provide uninterrupted entertainment and communication, which is how it has made the generation lazy and unproductive. They want to leave the couch or go out, which has caused a surge in several health problems. Inactivity promotes obesity, triggers musculoskeletal issues, and restricts psychological development, which ultimately leads to depression.
6. Distracted Mind
Social media is addictive, whether it is a source of pleasure or pain. The majority of teens and young adults cannot ignore a notification from their phone, even during the execution of an important task like driving a vehicle. If they cannot reach their phone or it is temporarily taken away, they will get nervous and restless in the pursuit to get it back.
Most youngsters are habituated to using their phone right before bed, and many of them fall asleep while using it. If you think that there is no harm in it, you are naïve. The mindless scrolling and blue light from the phone keeps us awake until late, so we wake up sleep deprived and exhausted. Some people cannot sleep at all due to the intrusive thoughts sowed by social media. Disruption of the sleep cycle and insomnia are common causes of depression and various other mental disorders. People who avoid going on social media near bedtime are able to fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed.