Unless you don’t own a digital device, or live in an area with no Internet connection, it is almost impossible to not be a part of social media in some way. There are many channels to chose from and most people have at least 2 to 3 social media accounts on different platforms.
Social media usage has become so ingrained in our daily routine that we don’t often notice the harm it can cause. Just like any addiction, social media can be addicting but it’s a habit that is hard to let go. Not having a social media account is almost the same as being anti-social but being anti-social is actually one of the negative effects of being addicted to social media.
With the rise of more affordable mobile devices, the use of social media is also on the rise. This also means a rise in the number of people experiencing the negative effects of being addicted to the use of social media.
1. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) + Unhealthy Sleep Patterns
People who can’t stop checking their social media accounts so frequently do so because of a fear of missing out. Be it on the latest trends in fashion, entertainment or news; they don’t want to miss out on the latest happenings because they don’t want to be criticized for being old fashioned or late to the news by their “friends” on social media. Thus, they spend their time online, late into the night, following recommended links from their friends on chat to discuss the topic/s.
This is especially true if you join a social media group which focuses on a particular topic. In order to be noticed in the group, you need to be very active in the group conversations and so you need to keep yourself updated on the topic/s so your comment is considered relevant and will get more attention. You will feel that you are getting more friends even as you lose more sleep.
This type of environment makes you feel like you belong to a group so you feel the need to contribute to the group and make your presence felt in the group. The problem is that this group is a virtual group; you don’t really know the actual persons in the group and spending too much time in this online group may lead to you developing anti-social tendencies in your personal relationships.
2. Anti-Social Tendencies
You may have more than 500 friends or followers on your social media profile but do you really know each of them personally? You may be a part of a popular social media group, but do the members know each other at all?
Although social media groups and group chats are useful for learning new things and getting to know new people with similar interests as you; spending too much time with your friends and community online will deprive you of the opportunity to spend quality time interacting with your friends and community in the physical world.
Also, spending too much time immersed in just one group will encourage “group think”, which will make you less welcoming of alternative ideas and concepts that aren’t aligned with your group’s opinion about a particular topic. When you are thinking like your group, you might argue with your best buddies and family members over a certain topic instead of being willing to engage in a meaningful discussion.
If you always spend time online and/or always argue with your friends and loved ones when you do spend time with them, then eventually, you will develop anti-social behavior which could lead to more serious mental issues later on.
3. Negative Self-Image
Social media posts are generally about good things or bad things in a particular person’s life experience. If you are always stalking your favorite social media influencer because you want to imitate their “perfect” life; then you are in for trouble. No one can have the perfect body (unless they’ve been digitally enhanced) and the perfect life is only in still pictures. However, social media often glosses over the the imperfections and highlights the good stuff, whether it is true or make-believe, thru ads or thru celebrity endorsements.
Comparing yourself to the perfect lifestyle of celebrities is a negative habit but doing it regularly will only make you develop a negative self-image and maybe even a more negative view of the world in general.
While you are pining away at the things you don’t have in your life yet, as you stalk your favorite social media personality’s profile; you are also negatively impacting your physical and mental health. If you don’t have a healthy measure of self-confidence to begin with, lingering on your social media feed will lower your self-esteem even more.
4. Unrealistic Expectations
There is a saying that “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you are constantly online and interacting with your online friends, what type of person will you become or have you become that person already?
Aside from developing a negative self-image; you may also develop unrealistic expectations of how people should behave and how things should happen in your life as you continue comparing your present situation to that of your social media idols and friends.
It is even more harmful if you have experienced cyber-bullying in your social media group/s. This is similar to experiencing peer pressure in real life but more harmful because your attackers may be more than you can handle and since you don’t know each other personally, however you defend yourself will be useless. But since they are speaking as a group, then their opinions will come off as valid and believable and you may end up following their advise even if you’re not really sure about it.
5. Depression and Anxiety
Aside from news channels, how many people have you seen online venting their frustrations and personal issues on their profiles? If you’ve started doing the same, then you might not just be addicted to social media, you might also be exhibiting the symptoms of depression.
Some people use social media to vent out their frustrations. This is actually alright if you are sharing such matters to just a select group of intimate friends and/or relatives. But if you are venting publicly, then you may invite unwanted attention and unsolicited advise as well as criticism.
If you are ranting on your social media group, you may receive both helpful comments as well as criticism and if you can’t manage the comments wisely, then you will only end up getting stressed and anxious and may even end up depressed from one negative remark which might trigger a host of other negative emotions in you.
Depression is not something to make light off and most people are not even aware that they are depressed. If you feel that you are constantly looking for validation online instead of asking help from your actual friends and family, then you may be more anxious or depressed than you think.
Next time you pick your phone or check your social media profile, try to set a time limit so you don’t miss out on the more important things you need to pay attention to.
Have you or do you know anyone who has experienced some of these negative effects from too much social media consumption?