Happy Thursday! As I try to grow a business that survives based on social media interaction, I ask myself this question every day. Is social media bad for my mental health? In today’s Q&A with Rosé we are going to evaluate some research, I’ll share my personal opinion, and talk about some tips to keep social media from ruining your life. So grab yourself a glass and let’s jump right in!
What the professionals have to say
Unfortunately, it’s not all black and white when it comes to
In a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, a correlation was found between teen and young adult’s social media activity and negative body image. Those who spent the most time on social media were over 2.5x more likely to experience feelings of negativity about the way they looked. Additionally, in a second study, social media was correlated to sleeping problems and higher reports of depression.
And probably the most fascinating study I researched occurred at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center. They took a small group of teens and found that an increased number of likes and comments on social media posts increased the amount of reward center brain activity. We are literally hardwired to respond to this kind of positive reinforcement online!
What I have to say
My answer to this question comes from personal experience and the answer is yes and no. I’m aware that isn’t really an answer at all so let me explain myself by illustrating examples to my two-sided response. I will start with the affirmative.
Yes, social media can be bad for my mental health.
I have personally struggled with poor body image and the depression that comes with consistently being on social media. It actually felt like my whole day was ruined when my engagement dropped or I got “shadowbanned”. Feeling inadequate to internet friends who always look great or appear to perpetually be on vacation has been a problem for me. I have sometimes intrinsically tied my self-worth to how many likes and comments I get. And then subsequently questioned everything about myself. “I must not be pretty or interesting enough.”
Since I know how it feels to feel inadequate on social media, I try to ensure my profile doesn’t make others feel that way. In my earlier days, I wrote a post about “Getting Real on Instagram”. I wanted to find and cultivate authenticity on social media. So I strive to ensure that people see the real me on Instagram. Whether that means I’m on stories in no makeup telling you about a panic attack I recently had or I’m posting about some really awesome deal on a denim skirt I found. The name of the game is transparency.
No, social media is not bad for my mental health.
For as much bad as there is out in the world, social media can be a great place for people to connect and share in their struggles, wins, and ambitions. For every internet troll, pervert, or weirdo looking for a sugar baby I have discovered 10 amazing people to follow, engage and interact with. I have made internet friends who have become lifelong friends. Credit goes to social media for bringing us together. I have also gotten the opportunity to participate with some amazing Nonprofits. None of that would have been possible without social media. So no, it’s not all bad.
Tips for staying positive on social media
So now we know that social media is both good and ugly. What can we do to stay positive about it all? Here are some tips to keep you from feeling less than on social media:
Remember that you are looking at the highlight reel
Social media is mostly going to be the highlights of someone’s life. They probably aren’t going to show you that day they got criticized at work. Or had a fight with their significant other. They are going to show you that time in Cabo when they got upgraded to a suite. Or that day they got a promotion. Just remember this when you start comparing yourself and feeling inadequate. Instead of looking at everything that they have and feeling depressed, think about all your highlights instead.
Only follow accounts and people that feed your soul.
The unfollow or unfriend button is there for a reason, use it! A purge might reduce your negative feelings and increase your happiness. Think critically about why you follow someone and if their account is enriching your life. If the answer is no or they’ve ever made you feel bad about yourself, say sayonara sister! If the people you surround yourself with put out good energy, it’s likely you will too!
Take a hiatus
It’s completely okay to take a break. If you find yourself feeling totally bogged down with the comparison game and you can’t break yourself out of this depressive cycle, just log off. Your internet friends will still be there when you decide to come back, I promise! Anytime I’m feeling creatively blocked, I just hop off for a few days. Living in the moment and enjoying time with friends and family without carefully curating it or having to post it on the internet can be super refreshing.
So whats the answer!?
I guess the answer to the question is if you let it be. Social media can be love, friendship, and community or it can be
Rosé & Ruffles