What do 500 million people all have in common? Facebook. As of 2013, 500 million people had a Facebook profile and half of those logged on every single day. Although social media sites have their benefits to us, such as keeping in touch with family and friends who are far away, studies have shown that it can negatively affect our mental health.
Losing Connection: The purpose of social media is to connect us. But research shows that focusing on what is happening elsewhere detaches us from what actually surrounds us. How many times do we substitute electronically catching up with friends or family over physically meeting them for lunch or coffee? This lack of face-to-face interaction can cause social anxiety.
Envy and Depression: From vacation pictures to fancy parties, people are always posting about how much fun they are having. The appearance that everyone around you never has a dull moment can lead to envy, depression and negative thoughts about your own life. Social media exacerbates the natural tendency we have to compare ourselves to others. Seeing how many more “friends” or “likes” someone has can make us feel inadequate.
If you think social media is the cause of your depression or anxiety, go a month without it. You might find that without the distraction of social media you are able to focus on what is important. I evaluated my own social media usage a few years ago after my dad told me if I wasn’t careful I’d become too busy watching everyone else’s lives that I would forget to live mine.