When Mental Health Succumbs to Social Media

In spite of the undeniable influence social media has on global communication and technology, social media has got a grip on our individual behaviors and our mental health. We do not see it happening but it effortlessly gets us to question our identity. While we make good use and catch up with the speed of the new revolution, this is to remind us to resist its total grip on our mental health.

Our smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. In today’s world, one could leave home with just their mobile phone and get things done just as they ought to. Right from having your morning meditations, getting a cab to campus or work, ordering food, and making payment for all these activities, our smartphones are the saving grace.

We have come to terms with this luxury yet turn a blind eye to the way social media makes us feel and act, be it positive or negative. If not all of us, a few of us will credit social media for our favorite hairstyle, an unforgettable fashion trend we jumped on, and possibly a recipe that made us unforgettable to the people who tasted our meals.

We have become people-pleasers and trend followers. We have benchmarked our lives with the perceived realities of social media forgetting its possible effects on our attitudes and our health. We are daily competing with virtual opponents on social media trying very hard to meet or beat the standards.

We become what we consistently consume. The consumption of social media consistently pressures the individual to leave beyond their means, pick up lifestyles that they ordinarily wouldn’t, and perception of life that is contrary to their upbringing, beliefs, and societal values.

We have become ‘products’ on these social media spaces, creating posts to gain followers, likes, and comments. Many will go the extra mile to gain recognition on these platforms. The majority of people share their highlights as opposed to their shortcomings yet we are threatened to compare our shortcomings to the highlights we see.

These negatives aside, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to mention a few of the social media platforms, have become a thing of this generation. In the quest to be a part of the societal or global trends, the majority of us are signed up to these platforms as it gives us the easiest and fastest way to do what we already do — maintaining relationships with our family and friends in a unique space and staying abreast with the times.

However, users must be cautious. There have been records of cyberbullying, suicide, and depression because of these platforms. The urge to compare, question our identity, or become what we are not goes a long way to affect our mental health.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental health can affect our daily living, relationships, and physical health. The high records of depression, cyberbullying, and anxiety are said to be traced to the uncontrollable long hours spent on social media.

There is also the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that heightens the risk. The AI apps on smartphones make it easier for users to be propelled to engage longer on their mobile phones. AI knows everything about its users; it stores the data of a user and uses that information to feed them content on their timelines.

If you do not define what you want to use social media for and what you would want to gain on these various social media platforms, there are so many gimmicks taking place that will quickly shift your attention. Just as you will go all out to ensure wherever you are saving your money or investment is credible and will give you your desired returns, we must consciously play safe in using any of these social platforms. We have records of individuals committing suicide because of a negative comment on their posts. Others have also been robbed because of giving out so much information online. Though these platforms have introduced privacy features, users need to control how much information they dole out there.

Social media has come to stay. Let’s maximize its benefits and ensure we maintain our sanity.


Illustration: A Plus Vector/Shutterstock


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