Studies suggest that the social media can negatively influence our mental health. It is a phenomenon that has been reported by users since the beginning of Facebook. Distorting our view of other people’s lives, creating a sensation of wasted time, and even cyber bullying, are just some of the elements that negatively impact our mental health. The Journal Computers and Human Behaviour published a study showing that users of more than seven social media platforms have a three times bigger chance of general anxiety symptoms than those who use two or less social media platforms. It is proven that social media and advertising are changing our brains. This phenomenon is described in the best-selling book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing go Our Brains”. If the internet, advertising, and social media, have such a profound effect on us, should we abandon them altogether? Or maybe, do they still have something important to offer us?
Social media is like a messenger that brings us bad news about ourselves. Suddenly, we realize that we are basing our self-esteem on the “likes” or opinions of others. We always kind of knew that before, but now, with every time we refresh Facebook to check for new “likes”, we have a proof. We discover that we are comparing our lives to others, wanting to live a little bit of the life of this or that person. We also find out that we need social interactions more than we want to admit. It makes us feel bad if our lives are not as “happy” as those portrayed in other people’s beautiful pictures on Facebook or Instagram. It leads us to ask questions; why do we compare our lives to others? Why do we need to check these sites so often? The answers partially lie in instinctive behaviours that we inherited from our pre-human ancestors. Instincts that make us hungry for praise, or easy reward, in order to feel part of a larger group. To feel safe. These instincts are skilfully used by the media experts to make us click that add or use their social media. But, on the raise of mindfulness, didn’t we outgrow our old, subconscious instincts?
Problems exposed by social media make us ask questions, and with a good question we can get valuable answers. Here are some lessons to consider on your social media experience:
- Don’t compare your life to that perfect pictures on the internet, most likely they are not real.
- Your own life is real and is fascinating. Each person has his own life, his personal adventure, appreciate yours. Live it as fully as you can. Many other people would surely like to switch place with you.
- You don’t need other people’s “likes” to confirm your own worth. The most important “like” comes from you. No-one is ever going to love you more than you love yourself. So, stop looking for approval from others and start loving yourself with all of your little “imperfections”. They are here for a reason.
- Be authentic, there is nothing more depressing than faked happiness.
During the development of human kind and its consciousness, we are shedding the layers of instinctive behaviours, bringing more mindfulness to our lives. Unfortunately, we can’t get rid of a problem if we don’t know about its existence. My answer to social media problem is: don’t kill the messenger that brings you bad news, take his message and use it for your own good.