Most people today have some sort of social media access or account that they use on a regular basis. Whether it’s a Facebook account for your family and friends, a Twitter handle for tweeting out your ideas or even a YouTube account where you follow your largest inspirations, social media usage has been growing exponentially.
Social media accounts have many useful aspects, such as giving you the ability to network with people to grow your connections or keeping up to date on what is going on in the world, but there are also ways that social media can become an unhealthy habit when not utilized properly.
One of the largest growing mental health risks of social media is FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO occurs when you get anxious over seeing people that you know, or even people you do not, having a fun time and posting about it on social media. It can be a subconscious reaction to these posts, where you worry about not being able to live in that lifestyle, have lowered self-esteem over not getting invited, or even cause you to become more addicted to living vicariously through others.
If you have experienced FOMO, or are currently experiencing FOMO, there are things that you can do to help break out of that mindset. One of the easiest ways to combat this feeling is to step away from social media, call a friend, and plan a night out. Although online friendships and relationships have their benefits, there is no replacing a good ol’ fashioned night out with someone who is present and in the moment with you.
While you are out and about, do your best to keep your phone stored away and out of sight. Focus on the conversation you are having, the people that are around you, and enjoy the atmosphere.
Just remember, most people only post their highlights on social media, so do not compare your entire life to just one aspect of another’s. You have the ability to make just as many lasting memories and strengthen the bonds between yourself and others.
While posting about what is going on in your life is a large portion of social media, there is also a line that can be crossed into oversharing territory. It seems that as the influence of social media has tightened its grasp on people, there has been an increase in people that post every aspect of their life, whether it is appropriate for social media or not.
Some common examples of oversharing are parents posting pictures of their children and what they are up to multiple times per day, people posting about gossip and drama in the workplace, or even “sadfishing.” “Sadfishing” is an Internet phrase which is similar to “catfishing,” but instead of pretending to be someone different online, someone who “sadfishes” exaggerates strife in their life on social media in order to gain more sympathy from followers and friends. Each one of these tactics can be addicting in its own sense, which turns it into a hard habit to break.
There are several mental health issues that stem from oversharing on social media. One concern is becoming dependent on social media for interactions with others, while isolating yourself and shutting out others in your real life.
People who overshare can also suffer from jealousy, depression, or anxiety as they compare their lives to others that they see online, which can fuel the desire to post more.
If you feel as if you are someone who overshares on social media, make sure to not go onto your social media accounts when you are in an emotional state and think rationally before posting anything. You can purchase a journal to put down all of your thoughts and feelings on paper, instead of sharing them with friends and strangers alike on the Internet.
Another growing concern with social media is cyberbullying. There has been a large increase in numbers of people who are “trolling” the Internet, or creating false accounts for the pure purpose of spreading falsehoods, spurring arguments, and being rude or unkind towards others, just for the fun of it. Unfortunately, when people have a computer screen and keyboard to hide behind, they are less careful with their words, which can spiral into cyberbullying, and this can happen to anyone of any age.
Cyberbullying is similar to bullying in real life, which can affect a person’s self-esteem and confidence, and even fuel depression and anxiety.
If you ever end up in a conversation with someone you feel is “trolling” you, the biggest rule is to not engage in the conversation. They feed on people’s responses, so the best way to stop them in their tracks is to not say anything.
The next tip is to not be afraid to block accounts of this nature. This will ensure that you will not see further posts from these accounts and they will not be able to see any of your content either.
On that note, you should also learn to become more comfortable with blocking accounts and increasing your privacy. Sometimes, this can be an important separation that is healthy for your mental health.
One of the most underutilized functions of most social media pages is the block function. Do you have an old coworker on your Facebook that causes you to roll your eyes everytime you see their name come up in your newsfeed? Perhaps an ex-partner has an uncanny habit of sending you messages every few months to see how you are doing, and you are exhausted of seeing those messages roll in.
Do not be afraid to take back control of your social media page by blocking people or accounts that have become toxic in your life. There is no harm in creating personal boundaries with someone you are not as close to, someone who has a habit of being unkind or negative, or someone who you just have fallen out of touch with but are not sure how to tell them.
When we refuse to disengage from people who are no longer sparking joy or adding to our lives, we are setting ourselves up to possibly end up with higher risks of depression, anxiety, or worry.
At the end of the day, it is your social media account and you hold absolute control over who can and cannot communicate with you.
Last, but not least, make sure that you are getting some time away from your social media accounts. While it is a fantastic tool, and humans are social beings, we also do not want to miss out on the real life happening right in front of us.