“It may have been designed with social connection in mind, but these days social media is less about friends, followers and sharing experiences. It has become a platform for cyber bullying, online harassment and trolling.”
– Charis Torrance
Most people who have social media accounts will, with no doubt agree with the statement Charis Torrance made. And to be perfectly honest, cyber bullying, online harassment and trolling can greatly affect a person’s mental health. And the most shocking fact of this all is that, Social media can lead to someone committing suicide. For instance, earlier this year a 13 year South African schoolgirl committed suicide after she was allegedly bullied by friends on WhatsApp groups. We can all testify to the sharp growing rate of cyber bullying of late, it seems most of us do not know that the impact of cyber bullying is so much worse than we anticipate.
Researchers have found that using social media obsessively causes more than just anxiety. In fact, testing has found that using too much internet can cause depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA), impulsive disorder, problems with mental functioning, paranoia and loneliness. – From an article by Alice G. Walton
These mental issues on the other hand, are not only caused by trolling but also by the need to compare one’s life from the ones they see on the internet. Many people see that someone is doing great in their life and feel very jealous of the person.
Oscar Ybarra , PHD, a professor of Psychology at the university of Michigan says: “What happens many times when people log on social media is that they kind of activate a lot of social comparison. People don’t necessarily have to be super aware that this is occurring, but it does. You log on; you’re generally dealing with much curated content on the other side.”
He notes that even if individuals are aware of the ‘curated’ nature of many online platforms,” they nevertheless feel like, ‘How am I stacking up?’ or ‘How is my life stacking up’ compared to what these people are presenting. I think that, what happens is that the more you use the platforms, the more social comparisons tend to induce and that, relates to these decrements in how people are feeling.”
So does this mean we should avoid social media? Not necessarily, they are many ways to use social media without letting it affect your mental health. One of the things that have greatly helped me not be affected mentally by social media lately is the realization that many people who post great stuff have a normal life just like you and me. And we all know that there will always be challenges in life, that’s a guarantee. And everyone has some sort challenges in their lives. And me, obsessing over other people’s carefully crafted social media personas will not help me find solutions to my everyday life problems. And another thing which can help your mental health while using social media is knowing that happiness is a personal thing and it has nothing to do with the external. This is to say, people have different opinions when it comes to everyday situations, and that is something I cannot control. What I can control is whether I choose to learn from their opinions (if they are making sense), or rather walk past the negativity and moving on with my life.
Some of you will make peace with the fact that social media is not such a great tool for your mental health and others will feel that all this is nonsensical, and that is something I have no control over. But keep in mind that plenty studies have found correlations between higher social media use and poorer mental health.
Until next time,