Have you ever felt depressed or inadequate compared to others when you go on Facebook or connect to other social medial platforms? If so, you are not alone. A survey by the UK charity Scope found that more than half of the users of popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter felt inadequate in their lives and their achievements compared to others. A similar proportion reported feeling jealous of others. The survey also found that half of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 felt ugly or unattractive because of social media. As a result of these negative emotions, many of the survey respondents admitted to thinking about disconnecting from social media while others felt that they would be happier if they were to limit their online activity.
Despite the massive movements in information and communication that have been made possible by social media over the past several years, it is not surprising to hear about such negative repercussions associated with social media use. Social media has become deeply entrenched in our lives, with recent statistics showing that 63% of Facebook users in the United States log on daily, while 40% of users log on more than once daily. Social media addiction is also a reality for many, especially those in younger age groups.
Research shows that individuals with pre-existing depression or pessimism are more likely to feel envy and depression when they access social media and view the seemingly perfect lives of others. If you find yourself burdened with excessive negativity when using social media, you can take some of the following actions to improve your mental well-being:
- De-activate Facebook either permanently or temporarily (do the latter if you feel that your negativity is transient or situational and will dissipate over time)
- Allocate the time that you would spend online on other activities that make you happier, such as reading, painting or cooking.
- Unfollow the particular contacts whose updates seem to be bringing you down the most
- Remind yourself regularly that social media is not a representation of reality. People often portray the most attractive, happiest and successful version of themselves on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
If you’re still feeling unhappy, angry or depressed about your life in spite of taking such measures, you should question why you’re feeling this way. It could be a sign of underlying psychological issues that you may need professional help with.
While social media has changed our lives for the better and improved connectivity in ways that were never imaginable, it also poses new dangers to our mental health and well-being. As such, it is crucial to reflect on how our online activity leaves us feeling and to limit our use and seek help if necessary.