Social media & mental health

confetti

the effects of social media

How long does it take before you check your social media? Right after you wake up? 1 to 10 minutes, 10 to 30 minutes or can you leave checking social media until the afternoon? The first thing you do when you wake up should not be checking your Instagram. It is mentally unhealthy and can be dangerous.

Positive impact from social media

Instead of scaring the scrolling finger of your hand I must first mention all the beautiful benefits of social media. Do you remember your best friend from primary school? The friend that moved away. Your buddy who you lost contact with because of the long distance. The mate you grew apart from. Well I have good news for you! You can find him or her easily on Facebook, twitter or Instagram. Matter of fact, you’ve just got a friend request from him!

How about the lovely group you’ve met while travelling? Now that you are back to your old lifestyle you can’t really stay in touch with them continuously. Oh you can! Thanks to social media you.

For business, social media can be a wonderful tool. Clients are engaged with the platform, vote for what they deem good content by their likes or dislikes and follow the pages they find most valuable. The target audience for any business can be extremely specific thanks to these tools. Knowing this information, you can produce products which fit your clients need.

The last positive impact of social media I can think of is that you can express yourself unrestricted in front a large audience without being restricted by a third party. You can capture moments and show them to people who might have been interested in attending the live event or want to learn more about it. The content you are creating now can even be something your grand children will dig up to learn about who you were, because digital content lives forever.

Negative impacts from social media

Unfortunately, the dark side of social media outweighs the positive. Young users have shown a positive correlation between the increase of anxiety, stress, and laziness with their social media used. Suicide rates from the millennial generation is nothing unlike previous generations which had to do with similar social pressures. The numbers have tripled of the last few years and did the mental health complications and drugs abuse, teenage plastic surgery and even steroid abuse. There have been a few studies done but not enough to give us a clear view of the landscape.

We decided to do our own little survey to find out what is happening in the society and how they feel about it. We did get the chance to interview people from London, different ages, background, religion, marital status and gender. Although all the participants reside in London, the finding can and do apply to the rest of the nation. What the people had to say

Local survey

The first person we interview is Richard Goldstein from Battersea. He is 35 years old, married and has 2 kids.

Q: Do you use social media often and for what do you use it for?

I sometimes do but only to keep in touch with friends who are away from the UK. Oh, and I also use it for the poll tracker on Facebook. It comes in very handy when you can’t use between two equal options, I let the public do my choosing. Q: Do you impulsively check your timeline?

No, but I have seen many others do. Consistently refreshing the timeline might be an indicator of underlying issues which you might want to consult a professional about but hey, what do I know. Q: how have you benefited from social media?

In general it is an easy and productive way to stay in touch with people who I would have normally forgotten because they are not around anymore. There was one moment that really stood out for me. Right before the time of the Ebola crisis I planned a tripped to visit a west African country. At the airport I was told of the crisis but I brushed it of until I checked the social media and saw real recording on how severe it was which made my cancel my trip then and there. So in that case, social media saved my life.

Second survey The second person we had the chance to interview is Michael Endz, he is 16 and lives in Oval.

Q: Do you use social media often and for what do you use it for?

Every day, right before I go to bed and as soon as I wake up. Before I get out of bed I first check my phone and all social medias to see if I have missed something or if someone has messaged me. Q: Do you impulsively check your timeline?

Depends on what I am doing. If I am bored, which is surprisingly often then ye I spend my time using social media and staying in touch with my mates. I post a lot and have a small following of people who I stay in touch with.

Last survey Our third candidate is Lisa Mukbom, 22 from Edgware, London.

Q: Do you use social media often and for what do you use it for?

Absolutely, I have so much going on, my hobby’s, friends and entertainment. It is all on social media so yes, I am an avid user. Q: Do you impulsively check your timeline?

mm, I wouldn’t say impulsive. I use social media all the time because I am either receiving messages or sending them. Either way, my phone is in my hands. Is that what you call that impulsive? Ever since my implants I have been receiving more messages from guys. But I don’t think my time spend on social media is a problem because I am engaging and communicating with real people I like. There you have it, the people from London have spoken. You can tell from our small survey. The older generations don’t feel the pressing urge of social media. The millennial’s and the generation after are finding it normal to be completely engaged with their phone more than with their surroundings.

The real life you don’t have

Reality TV is a precursor to snap chat and Instagram stories. Now, everyone has their own little reality show which they can broadcast from their phone. Obviously, some people will have a way better life than most, and they will display that in their reality show. You follow who you resonate with most, so you can entertain yourself with their show. It’s all innocent and entertaining until you start comparing yourself with these people who have a better ‘show’ than you. Its human nature to compare your situation to that of your neighbours. That is how we stay competitive and alive. The issue is that if you live in a ‘millionaire digital neighbourhood’ your competition is not real. It does feel very real.

Overtime, slowly, the entertainment start eroding your self-esteem. You will start to think less of yourself if you can’t compete with these people. These people that you know nothing off other than what they show you. You might even think that there is something wrong with you. Insecure thoughts seep in. You might even consider expensive and painful surgery such as limb lengthening. The spiral of death has begun from here and it will take you for a ride. Stop impulsively checking your phone. Put it down!

Why was I not invited?

All your friends are going to the cinema, and you are not invited. Could be for many reasons, maybe you have been unpleasant recently, maybe they want to create a better bond with each other, maybe it is someone’s birthday that you don’t know but either way, you are not invited. Happens to the best of use, nothing to stress about. Although, in the case of social media, this can really frustrate a young person. While you impulsively check your timeline, a video appears of all your friends hanging out, having fun and eating popcorn at the cinema without inviting you or even mentioning it to you. How does that feel? Now imagine how that would feel and you are 16! Must be terrible, but this is what kids must go through. Back in my day if my friends didn’t invite me I didn’t have to watch them have fun without me, that is just mental cruelty.

Cyber bullying

Speaking about cruelty, kids can be very cruel towards each other in school. When I was younger, when I had a bad day I was able to seek refuge at home. Discuss what bothers me with the family. Forget about the bad day and start the next day better. The situation now is that you can’t escape your peer group. They are in your pocket. They will send notifications, embarrassing pictures, rumours and endless amount of negativity your way. Kids who get bullied in school now can’t escape like I was able in my childhood. Putting the phone down would be an option but majority of their entertainment is on their phone. It’s a tricky and dangerous situation which can lead to life-ending results. The society needs to find ways to protect the next generation from the negative effects social media can have.

Conclusion

Social media is still relatively young. We still need to find out how to use it optimally and how to make it part of our lives without harming our society. The simplest thing is to take a break if you feel that you are being excessive with your online presence. Log out for a short period, maybe a month, maybe two months, you will quickly realise who your real friends are and who your social media friends are. When you have those two separated you can now move on in the digital world cautiously because another pitfall might lie around the corner.

A piece of advice I would love to give people, be social with others in your presence. Stop being on your phone! Look up and say hi to the people surrounding you. Find out how their day has been, find out what their issues are and maybe even how you can put a smile on their face.

All this can start by simply logging off all social media and engaging with the surrounding people. This is not a one-day wonder pill, you must stick to it for at least a month and you will feel what I have felt for the first time in a long while; a sense of belonging in the society I live in.

Here is article regarding the same topic on the economist .

Here is a short video on the topic on a Joe Rogan episode with an anthropologist named Sebastian Junger. Enjoy and hopefully you can curb your excessive social media use.