How Social Media Could Be Threatening Your Mental Health

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How Social Media Could Be Threatening Your Mental HealthThese days, nearly everyone is involved with social media in some capacity. Grandparents and parents are on Facebook, while grandchildren are on Twitter, Instagram, and who knows what else.

Facebook, in particular, is the social media platform of choice for people a little older and more mature. It provides an easy way to stay up-to-date and current in the lives of friends and family, while offering a glimpse into the lives of the people you care about. Seeing pictures of your children, grandchildren, other relatives, and friends whenever you want can be comforting and satisfying for many.

But Facebook is not without its flaws. And the more friends and contacts you have on Facebook, the worse it can be.

Facebook provides an opportunity for people to create and form an image they’d like to portray. They choose what pictures and information they disclose, and as is the case most of the time, the news is extremely positive. There are public displays of affection between loved ones, pictures with big smiling faces, and all kinds of comments and information about how happy a person is, how great their friends are, where they are going for vacation, or what they ate for dinner.

Some people look at this information and compare it to their own lives. Recently, I’ve come across some articles and studies that back up my opinion that this can create a negative impact on an individual’s well-being. They wonder why they don’t have the same things that their friends are displaying and, ultimately, they can begin to feel down about themselves. They begin to believe they have a problem, aren’t good enough to have the lifestyle their friends do, or believe that there may be something about them that is fundamentally flawed. It becomes a game of keeping up with the Joneses.

It’s important to remember that people edit and carefully select what they share with others. They want to make themselves look happy, interesting, affluent, and exciting. They create an image that showcases the best parts of their lives, and they may even fabricate information. For some people, Facebook may become a cry for help—they try so hard to show others how happy they are and how perfect their life is, while in reality, things are quite the opposite.

If Facebook makes you feel depressed and unsatisfied with your own life because it causes you to compare yourself to others, remember that it’s often an inaccurate reflection of reality. It’s almost like a personal marketing tool. After all, it’s called social media.

To have a healthy social life, you don’t need to be on Facebook. Instead, call and visit with friends. Talk to them, hear their voices, and create experiences together. In-person communication and interaction make your relationships more genuine, prevent you from comparing your life to others, and most importantly, they make you feel good.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Krasnova, H., et al., “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction?” Wirtschaftsinformatik Proceedings 2013, paper 92; http://aisel.aisnet.org/wi2013/92, last accessed June 2, 2014.
Kross, E., et al, “Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults,” PLoS ONE; 8(8): e69841, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069841.

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