Updated: Oct 22, 2020
So many of us are familiar with the different types of social media which are both available and accessible to us 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
How many of us however are aware of how accessing online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube can impact on our mental health?
Accessing social media can have many benefits for so many, especially during the current pandemic. Enabling us to stay connected with friends, family and loved ones. It can help us to overcome barriers of distance and time when connecting with others, and provide access to information and opportunities, strengthening personal and professional networks.
But what if we could imagine a world without social media….what difference would this make?
Improved happiness and general mood
Social media can have a negative impact on our overall feeling of well-being or satisfaction in our lives. Reading other people’s posts can make us feel inadequate, that they are better than us, having a better time than we are, with more friends and family than we have. We are also all obsessed with ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ on our posts, and not receiving a ‘like’ from a family member or friend, although we expected this can affect our mood, especially where we see them liking other people’s posts. The list goes on.
Many of us spend our final moments before going to bed on our phones looking at Facebook, Instagram, or other social media channels. Just looking at the screen alone which emits a hue of light can inhibit our sleep. Then we read something that makes us feel sad, jealous, confused, angry or upset, instead of going to bed rested our adrenaline is pumping round our body increasing our anxiety levels at a time when we want to be resting.
The average person spends approximately 1 ¼ hours per day on social media. In our lifetime for the average person this would equate to 6 years, and 8 months spent on social media! Just think of the time this could be spent with family, friends, getting one of those jobs done on our list that feels never ending. We would have more time to spend with family, friends, or focus on our own health and wellbeing, taking up a new hobby, applying for a new job, gaining a new qualification, engaging in physical exercise or engaging in self-care.
Reduced exposure to fake and bad news
The impact of fake and bad news, either through the standard news channels, or via social media about life events, friends or family or sometimes people we have not ever met can result in us feeling fearful, stressed, upset and also result in sleep disturbances or possibly nightmares. It can have a massive impact on anxiety and can result in generalised anxiety disorders. Without social media we would reduce our exposure to the amount of bad and fake news, and therefore reduced our overall levels of anxiety, depression, and fear.
No more comparing ourselves with others
Every day we log on to Facebook or Instagram and see someone we perceive as more attractive than us, better looking than us or having more fun in their lives. This is simply the way the individual chooses to project themselves, but not always an accurate projection of how they look or what is going on in their lives. We end up comparing ourselves against an unrealistic goalpost for ourselves, and end up feeling depressed, with low self esteem and low self-confidence. Imagine if we were not inundated with images of others who seem to have a better life than we do?
What if there were no more adverts about health issues or health related products. leading us to access online medical and health resources such as Google and Wikipedia? Or how many times have you or someone you know commented on a comments thread that they feel unwell, resulting in friends and family offering help and advice with limited health knowledge. Our natural instinct is to ‘fix’ others so we then end up in a minefield of information which we access online that is confusing, and results in an increased level of health anxiety, and also results in catastrophising the worst possible outcome that the illness is life threatening or terminal.
‘How to break up with your phone’ by Catherine Price
‘Notes on a nervous planet’ by Matt Haig
The Social Dilemma