In one study after another, researchers and psychologists show a clear link between mental illness and social media. Digital development, and thus our use of new technology, is happening at rocket speed and we are currently seeing a new generation grow up in a world where you will not be noticed unless you are funny, smart, or stylish – online.
Some question the impact of social media and turn it around. Is it perhaps that those who are already ill, for other reasons, are using social media to a greater extent? Is it really social media that affects us to feel bad? Or are we using social media as a cure for our growing anxiety?
At the same time, remember that the generation that is growing up now (also called iGen born 1995-2012) is not just looking down at their phones and feeling worse. They also show improvements in a number of areas.
We often paint young people today as ungrateful, attention-seeking, app-dependent, and unsocial. And it is easy to point out social media as the culprit in drama. But today’s youth may be the turn we have been waiting for. In the US, this new generation shows up proven statistics around:
- lower crime rate than 70 years
- fewer murders
- less alcohol drinking at an early age
- less dated (replaced with apps like Tinder and WhatsUp etc.)
- thus less sex at an early age
- thus fewer teenage pregnancies
So is it right to question mobile phones, the internet, and social media and say it is good or bad? Or do we see a generation that is perhaps the turning point for problems that previous generations have failed to deal with?
We live in one of the world’s most digitized societies. The Young and Media Survey conducted by the State Media Council showed that 37% of all 15-year-olds engaged in internet-based activities for 3 hours or more in 2010. In 2016, that figure was 70%. A recent scientific study from Pennsylvania University, 2018, shows that limiting social media (not exclusion) reduces depressive symptoms by up to 37% in three weeks. So if social media is bad for our health then it needs attention.
More and more young people are unhappy with their lives
The study Monitoring the Future (USA) states that more 17-year-olds are unhappy with their lives now than over 40 years.
What does it say about our time? What does it say about the future? But above all, why do we feel this way?
What is so dangerous about social media?
We only show the highlights of our lives
The problem with social media itself without what is published in them and what it makes us feel and do. Let’s be honest.
People on Instagram are not who they claim to be. It is a facade that shows the best possible side of their lives. Pictures that are posted for seeking attention and popularity rather than showing what their lives really look like.
For the truth is that we feel inadequate, ugly, and have it dirty. This is what our society looks like. What we see on screen and what we see in real life are in many cases two completely separate things.
Social Media is building on popularity. On Instagram and Snapchat, we see celebrities who can afford to live a luxury life. Models traveling around the world showing off their perfect bodies. App-retouched selfies with blurred faces that do not reveal a single pore or cellulite. This is called the Highlight Reel and shows only the highlights of our lives – if even that.
When we see how confident, popular, and good-looking others are, it elicits feelings of inadequacy and insecurity in ourselves. And a picture certainly does nothing. But when we are constantly fed with the impression of a reality that is far from our own, in the end, it becomes like a great weight.
And what will be our reaction? Well, of course, we also try to blend in and say:
Hello! I am also good looking, cool, and successful!
The sick thing is that we all look through this. And yet so many choose to follow the game.
Why? What are we trying to prove?
We are desperately seeking attention
We live in a time where attention is like a currency. And we are the product.
In order to become aware of and get a break from social media, we adapt what happens in our lives, our pictures, and what we publish to get as much attention as possible.
The more likes, comments, and shares. The more popular and more successful we feel. For a while. The feeling of getting that virtual flap on the shoulder is addictive and makes us lose control of what’s important.
Creating a storefront of ourselves that doesn’t match reality makes us feel worse. We lie to ourselves and others. And when reality catches us up, we stand there empty, downtrodden and heavy and become even more afraid that others have a better life than we do. Being seen and heard becomes an achievement that has nothing to do with who we are. Without what we think others want to see. A pressure to deliver. Not to be.
Social media creates an addiction. To confirm their own status and to keep track of what others are doing.
Most people handle this in their own way. But people with addictive behavior can easily get there. And it can go so far as to ruin it for them at school or at work.
Having a desire to keep up to date with what your friends are doing is stressful. Especially since social media is for publishing content. It’s going to be a vicious cycle.
FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, can be described as a fear of missing out on something we think is going on. A sense of risk of losing something we have never really had.
The feeling is worrying and stressful. The consequence is that we constantly look at our mobiles and in many cases sleep with the cellphone under the pillow or within reach to update us the first thing we do in the morning.
The tragic thing is that people with FOMO tend to stop caring about their own lives. Something that leads to isolation and fewer real encounters with other people. In addition, it is easy to feel even more outside when you see what others are doing.
It raises questions that may sound harmless at first. But if the situation repeats every day, for months and years, then it is clear that it is affecting us negatively.
- Why doesn’t my life look as glamorous?
- Why doesn’t anyone mess me up?
- What is wrong with me?
- Why is she/ he so popular but not me?
- Do I have to be good looking to get likes?
- So how do you handle this – what to do?
Should you turn off your phone? Should you delete your social media accounts?
No. Of course not. Mobile use and social media is the development of our society just like radio, TV, and the Internet. To try to stop the development through prohibition or total demarcation, I think is not the right path.
However, it is reasonable to question their own relationship to social media and how much impact it has on one’s life. Is what I publish the real picture of me or do I post it to meet what I think is the expectations of others?
Most people use some form of social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. But, the question is how all hours on social media and constant updates affect our health. This is something that we intend to take a closer look at below.
Social media addiction
In many ways, social media is something that is very good because, among other things, it makes it easier to keep in touch with friends and also make new contacts and expand their network. Then of course it is also fun to get a “like” for a picture you uploaded or for something you wrote as this can give a little extra boost to self-confidence. Especially in young girls where as many as one in four states that their self-esteem deteriorates the more they use social media.
Is the trend about to reverse?
Although social media is still a big part of many people’s lives, the question is how long it will be so. More and more people are choosing to leave social media for a variety of reasons.
A major contributing cause, of course, was the big scandal that revealed that the British IT company Cambridge Analytica had illegally accessed information and data about hundreds of thousands of Facebook users. The data was then used to direct information and in some cases even propaganda directly to specific user groups.
However, far from everyone has been influenced by the Cambridge Analytica scandal as six out of ten Facebook users as well as four out of ten Instagram users will continue as usual in their use of social media.
In addition to the stress of hunting for likes, there are also a number of other health problems that can be related to social media. Among other things, social media can lead to insomnia if you have the habit of checking Facebook or Instagram on your mobile or tablet after going to bed. Studies have shown that screen viewing just before going to bed affects sleep negatively.
Studies have also shown that those who use social media more than two hours a day run twice the risk of suffering from depression symptoms than those who use social media 30 minutes or less each day.
Studies have also shown that although you may have hundreds or even thousands of Facebook friends, you actually feel less alone when you log out of Facebook.
There are also studies that show that social media can increase jealousy in a relationship. For example, pictures of old ex or new unknown contacts can cause bad blood, which in turn can lead to conflicts.
Being constantly connected also reduces the time for daydreaming, which is important for the brain’s creative ability.
My hope is that people who experience social media as something negative should open their eyes to what makes them feel stress, worry, and anxiety. And give them tips on how to handle it.
I also want to bring the readers behind the scenes and show how Instagram bottoms, algorithms retouching techniques work. Maybe to reveal what a fake world we live in. But also to highlight the difference between popularity in social media and real human dignity.