Have you ever felt restless or angry due to social media? Or maybe felt that you were able to become more outgoing because of it?

The idea of using this platform to connect to like-minded people still rings true, although it can come at the expense of involuntarily feeling the full spectrum of human emotions. It can cause us to become addicted, compare ourselves to others, and possibly unhappy. We never really think about how our brain is processing the endless stream of information it’s taking in.

There are many pros and cons to this method of communicating, but here are three of the top results that surveys and studies prove common.

Photo Courtesy of CreateHER

Self-comparison

Social media often portrays distorted images of users, and chances are they are not posting about their shortcomings. Seeing posts about people’s accomplishments, trips, awards, etc., under certain circumstances, has proven to be linked with mental health problems. Social media as a whole is not the culprit, rather it’s the type of browsing that can develop feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. According to researchers, Nesi and Prinstein, depression is linked to using social media for comparison and feedback. Self-comparison can trigger a sense of envy and loneliness, which in turn causes social media use to be maladaptive, which leads us to restlessness. 

Restlessness

Monitoring someone excessively on social media (or spending too much time on it) can cause anxiety, which either leads to depression or what researchers call, “FOMO,” fear of missing out. This also results in unexplained mood swings, particularly towards the bad end of the spectrum, and inadvertently leads to being less productive. Have you ever not accomplished your to-do list because you spent too much on your favorite social media site?

It’s not all cons though, when social media is used in moderation and with right intentions, there is also a bright side of things. 

Connectivity and socialization

Being able to connect and stay connected with family and friends promotes positive emotions of relevancy. Knowing that someone cares for you and being able to express yourself freely preserves one’s self-worth. According to The British Psychological Society, people with low self-esteem have found that they rise from a mood slump when connecting with like-minded individuals online, which in turn creates a feeling of self-affirmation. Who doesn’t like being thought of by family and friends? Or knowing many out there care about the same things you do? It’s a great feeling indeed.

Photo Courtesy of CreateHER

Social media can definitely promote positive results and a general well-being when there are instances of positive feedback and displays of inclusion. Heavy social media users aren’t necessarily all low self-esteem people or addicted. Research conclusions from the Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication state that there are many who are naturally outgoing and satisfied with their lives.

This phenomenon of communication definitely presents positives and negatives. It is not the system as a whole, rather the particular unhealthy behaviors that can result in self-comparison and feedback seeking. When used with the right mindset, social media can offer multiple physical benefits, as well as boost our psychological health.

How do you feel when you use social media?

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