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Social Media and Mental Health

That constant itch to get up and check if your new uploaded photo got enough likes, or if that one person saw it, or just to check in if there’s any notification, or message from someone, shifting from Instagram to Twitter to Facebook, only to find one of your friends standing under the leaning tower and having the time of his life? While you’re still stuck in your trousers in your small room? 

Social media has created a world for us that is just as toxic as it is appealing. It surely has its advantages, but if the cons outweigh them or not is another topic. 

According to statistics, “nearly 25% of adolescents believe social media has a primarily negative impact, with 13% of 12-17-year-olds experiencing depression and 32% reporting anxiety”. But what has it done? How is it affecting the mental health of so many people? Below are some of the points that might help you find out: 

•Comparison – we look into other people’s lives and start comparing ourselves to the possessions they possess, the things we don’t have, which make us sad. Some people get frustrated at not being able to achieve a figure they think is perfect, and get saddened by their monotonous life in comparison to the exciting ones in the picture. They forget that people only show a portion of their lives on social media, and it might just not be as exciting and happy as it seems.  

• Time-consuming – with all its appealing features social media makes it hard for people to stay away, the notification and the unexpectedness act as a hook, we upload a picture and cannot stop ourselves from checking in every few minutes to how many likes and compliments it got. Or sometimes we just waste our time scrolling in reels and doing nothing productive. 

•Less quality time with your family and loved ones- we get so engaged in social media that we forget there are people beyond it, who would if not anything feel good to have someone to talk to. We lose the thread connecting us to the people out of our phones, to the physical world. 

•Distraction – with all the charms of social media people find it hard to concentrate on their work, wondering about the people who might have messaged them or the reactions their post must have received. 

•Isolation – some people spend the majority of their time on social media and become disconnected from the people in their immediate environment, losing a sense of belonging. Isolation over an extended period can cause anxiety; people who are alone tend to overthink things and may also develop inferiority complexes. 

•Cyberbullying – Because people don’t see individuals suffering on social media or the impact their unpleasant comments or remark might have on a person, it’s simpler for those who make those comments on the spur of the moment. People don’t bother to wait for a moment and think of the damage words can cause. They are so vocal about mental health when it comes to talking about it yet don’t think before causing any damage. According to research, about 10% of teens report being bullied on social media, but it’s only what has been reported, there must be more. “It has to stop, the way we treat each other.” 

Things you can do to control your social media addiction:

Because no matter how much people say that you can try to make your time on social media productive, and just that, it’s almost impossible to not get pulled by all the things that it offers. How can you protect your mental health from it? First, just know that cutting off ties wouldn’t be easy, and you don’t have to do that, just give yourself enough time to contemplate, and it’ll all be okay. “It gets worse before it gets better”. Just believe in yourself, it’s a long way, and we’ll get there. If you feel you’re getting addicted to it, here are some of the things you can try:

•Turn off your social media notifications: You might as well just feel more stressed after turning it off, but remember that it’s for your good and resist the need to open it. Limit your use to a certain period and stick to it. 

•Look out for alternatives: maybe it’s time you get back to your old hobby, you might be still good at it, or try new things, and you might even develop a new hobby that would make you feel good, or try reading that book you have been procrastinating for so long or anything you prefer. At the end of the day, what matters the most, if not your peace? 

•Keep your phone away from you when you go to sleep- if your phone is out of your reach, you might get less tempted to grab it and scroll through social media and you might opt to sleep instead. 

To be honest, there are many ways to do it, but all of them start with your will. “Where there is a will, there is a way”. The question is, are you willing to try?

At last, of course, there are some good sides to social media too. For example, for someone who feels uncomfortable in social situations, it gives them hope that there’s a place they can belong, reach out to people and get to know them. And people do make good friends online, some of them even come into their physical world. And it’s an amazing platform to build your audience too, you can showcase your talent and win the attention it deserves, but you should never lose sight of the thread that binds you to the physical world, understand that the lives of people that you see there are only a part of who they are and it does not depict the challenges they face, the pictures there are beautiful, but life isn’t just an amazing picture, there are thorns in it and it’s twisted. You gotta get up and face it in the physical world and witness it yourself. 


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