Social media is the term to describe the websites and applications almost everyone uses on a daily basis to create, consume, and share content.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are the four big ones. But there are a whole host of other platforms people use to connect with online socially.
It’s become a social norm to participate in social media. And, while it has its advantages, such as being able to keep in contact with friends and family around the world at the touch of a button, there is also a dark side to social media.
Just take a look at these social media statistics:
- 210 million people worldwide are addicted to social media and internet usage
- 50% of social media users say it’s had a negative effect on their relationships
- 60% of social media users say it’s had a negative effect on the way they see themselves
The Problem with the Unrealistic Standards of Social Media
A growing and serious problem with social media is the impact it has on a user’s self-image, confidence, and self-esteem.
The issue is similar to what advertising companies and magazine publications do – setting unrealistic standards with images of people looking and living perfect lives.
If you’re just using social media to keep in contact with friends and family on Facebook, this isn’t going to be a problem. But most social media users love seeing how the rich and famous live.
If you look at the list of the most popular Twitter and Instagram accounts, for example, celebrities like Justin Bieber, Dwayne Johnson, and Kim Kardashian top the list. Their feeds are full of images of them looking perfect – often enhanced before posting – and it sets an unrealistic image for the average user.
There is a fine line between using social media to see how the rich and famous live, and using it to set a standard of what you want from your life. When these lines get blurred, you’re at risk of psychological harm.
Is social media affecting how you see yourself?
Social media has been linked to increased levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and envy. This is because it’s easy to look at pictures of people seemingly living the perfect life, while you might not be in a similar place in your life.
Comparing yourself to other people on social media, or wishing you were living the life they are will only cause you to feel worse about yourself.
The important thing to remember when browsing social media is that people are always putting their best self forward there. They rarely show pictures of how they’re really feeling, or capture things that are going bad in their lives. And that’s fine, people don’t want to see that for the most part.
But it skews both how they are really doing, and what your perception is of your life compared to theirs. Which is why it’s bad to compare yourself to someone else on social media, you should never do it.
Should you take a break from social media?
There is almost nothing bad that can come from taking a break from social media, but a lot to gain if it’s having a negative psychological effect on you.
Here’s a checklist of warning signs that you need a break from social media. If you can say “yes” to any of these points, it’s time for a social media detox:
- Have you come to realize that social media is affecting you how see yourself?
- Does browsing social media make you feel down or disappointed about your life?
- Do you spend more than 2 hours a day on social media?
- Do you spend more time on social media than you do with friends and family?
If any of those questions are ringing true, start taking steps to reduce your time on social media or just go cold turkey. Obviously, there is a need to keep in contact with friends and family, but they will understand if you take a short break. It might even make them question their own relationship with social media.
The more time you spend interacting with people in real life, the greater the appreciation you’ll get for what you have. You’ll soon start to see yourself in a more positive light once you’re away from the idealistic and unrealistic images we’re constantly bombarded within our social media feeds.