The Downside of Social Media Which we Overlook
Social media is bleeding into every part of our lives without any demarcations. The platforms which were designed to bring people together are, in reality, drifting people apart. Digital networking is getting older, and with it, its impacts are becoming more and more apparent. Studies have started to reveal that we are feeling lonelier than ever and that depression rates among teens are worryingly rising. Social media, alongside our own selves, is mainly culpable for this vastly detrimental change in our lives.
41% of the world’s population, i.e. 3.1 billion, uses online social networks that include Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and etcetera. Due to social media’s popularity, researchers have lately become more interested in its impacts on different aspects of our lives. Based on the research that they have conducted up to now, it turns out that the effects of social media on our mental health are adverse for the most part.
Although some people may associate depression alleviation with social media, ample surveys conducted in the past couple of years suggest otherwise. A study of more than 1500 people revealed that the use of social media increases the likelihood of depression, anxiety and even experiencing social isolation. This study does not mean to indicate in any way that social media has not aided anyone at all in their battle against mental health issues, but that the probability of falling into something like depression is far greater than being able to successfully mitigate a similar mental problem through the use of social media.
Another fascinating observation that has come out is that the more one’s depressed, the more that person turns towards social media to seek help. This clearly indicates the addictive nature of these social networking sites which are designed to keep us on our screens for as long as possible.
Engagement on social media before going to bed is also known to disturb your sleep. Various surveys have been conducted regarding this issue, and they all seem to suggest that the higher one’s social media usage is throughout the day, the poorer their sleep quality and duration is. What’s worse is that the chances of not getting sound sleep almost exponentially increase the more time is spent scrolling through social media feed, although there is comparatively less evidence for this claim.
One of the reasons for this could be the uneasiness and anxiety created by the ‘glamour’ witnessed during the day on social media, which makes it challenging to finally switch off when we lay on our beds to sleep. Social media is also likely to reduce our physical activity – something that research has established to improve sleep – throughout the day, which could offer another possible explanation for sleep disturbances due to more screen time.
People lie on social media more frequently than you probably think. A survey of more than 2000 people conducted by Custard, a British Digital Marketing company, revealed that more than 75% of the social media users were guilty of lying. The depiction of daily life on these social platforms is far from true, but that is precisely what we are consuming, so it is believed to be genuine.
A straightforward and easy-to-implement solution to this problem is for everyone to quit lying. However, unfortunately, that itself is not realistic, considering that we are living in the times of social media celebrities who are earning millions through the networks. Therefore, a feasible solution in sight could be to think twice before believing what you see online and to ‘be real’ about yourself (however you may wish to define it!) on social media.
The Way Forward
The fact that social media has expanded this much in the past decade almost necessitates our online presence. Hence, it is not a very practical idea to completely abandon it (albeit one worth giving a try!), but instead using it with moderation could help one extract a lot more benefits out of it than they currently do (or do not) with its excessive use.