If you have a smartphone, chances are you have at least two or three social media apps installed on it. If you are in your teens, chances are you might get to five or more: we share, post, comment, wait for reactions, likes, smiley faces, gifs, hearts and all of those things that can trigger anything from a small consolation in our busy lives to causing a true and proper addiction.
When is it that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Bumble, and so make our lives more miserable? What are the negative effects of social media?
Lack of sleep
What did people used to do last at night before the advent of social media? Talking to their partner, reading a book, or simply hitting the pillow and snooze happily.
One of the effects of social media on the quality of our sleep is that way too often we pick up the phone back even when we just get out of bed for a quick drink in the middle of the night. It’s those half hours spent scrolling (and never reading anything) that really have a bad effect on our sleep. A good way to get out of this habit would be to turn your phone off completely before going to bed.
Fear of Missing Out (FoMO)
Facebook events, group invitations, Instagram geotagging and with that a display of some of the most beautiful hidden natural treasures in the world, are all factors that can contribute to developing a so called ‘fear of missing out’. It is a social anxiety that pushes us to stay always connected with what other people are doing and to question our decisions and if they may have led to missing out on an opportunity. It all cause a feel of regret and a compulsive dissatisfaction with the way we interact with people and manage our social lives.
Or better cyberbullying: people get up to so much talking rubbish from behind their screens in the shape of free insults, unreasonable and unjustified arrogance. Grown ups have learnt to identify what’s been said out of ‘I’m angry and no one knows me’ type of spite rather than for real – although it is not rare to see a public figure removing themselves from social media altogether after the masses infuriate and fill their feeds with rage. But if it was a teenager who had to cope with all that? Cyberbullying is actually a crime when it involves insults and comments on one’s gender, sexual orientation, race and physical differences. But as longs as teenagers are taught to talk about it, there’s room for it to being stopped.
One of the negative effects of social media on society is the utopian world in which we should aim at getting perfect bodies, flawless skin complexions, big butts or small butts, plump lips or no make-up, according to what it is going viral and ‘breaking’ Instagram especially in that moment. Self-acceptance and self confidence are the values only recently celebs of the likes of Rihanna have embraced to promote on social media – and in life.
Are we really more socially active thanks to social media or we end up spending more time glued to our screens than actually seeing people? Talking to people on the internet doesn’t make you an anti-social per se, but it surely discourages your from filling your time with real life conversations and friendships, those ‘things’ you can count on when you are struggling in life and you need actual help.
Social media and depression
Anxiety and stress, loneliness, not accepting oneself and a lack of satisfaction with one’s life are all causes of depression and as we have just argued are also all consequences of the excessive and inappropriate use of social media. You can read more on the signs on depression and what it really feels like here.
Pros and cons of social media
It is clear what is it that social media can cause in many people if they can’t dose their daily amount of digital activity: but is there a silver lining in the advent of social media or we all doomed to a world of anxiety and dissatisfaction?
The pros of social media are real and here they are:
- Building a community: Facebook groups and even fitness apps such as Strava and Runtastic help users out with sharing the joys and pains of the activities they perform in their daily lives.
- Emotional support: it isn’t patronising people are after when they post how bad things have been when their day has been a failure, it’s the moral support or the consolation in knowing it happens to everyone and that they are not a failure that makes them share private details of their lives.
- Self-expression: taking photos, applying the right filters, doing the right caption or articulating a comment according to the most accurate dialectical practices is surely one way to express creativity, originality, personality and uniqueness.
Is it a fall of real-world relationships?
The biggest concern and negative effect of social media is of course in the counter effect of making us less attached to real-life interactions. Yes, they are harder to maintain and cultivate. Yes, it is harder to deal with people face to face. Yes, real relationships will most likely hurt at some point. But are we really going to sacrifice the fun of a night out with your BFFs for some incessant typing and scrolling through emojis?