The negative impact social media is having on our society

Wellness/Health

Real life vs. social media – the constant comparisons

Social media allows us to see the best of someone’s lives, but our brain comprehends it as someone’s real life.

We strive to achieve what others portray in their social media lives. We set ourselves up for failure, by trying to achieve this unattainable goal. 

 When we don’t manage to achieve that goal, it saddens us.

People don’t put the anxiety they are feeling, their crying, their breakdowns and their hurt on social media. They don’t put their daily experiences. Instead, they show themselves travelling and partying. We are comparing our normal lives to someone’s best moments and this is impacting our mental health.

FOMO

Social media has increased the FOMO we are facing in our lives. Because we can see everything, we have a fear of missing out. If we couldn’t see our friends hanging out, we wouldn’t think we wish we could be there. Instead, we would be able to enjoy what we are doing ourselves. 

Social Interaction

Social media is great for interacting with our friends and staying connected. But we are so involved in social media that we forget to take part in real life conversation.

We sometimes go for lunch to a restaurant and we are just on our phones either Whatsapping or Instagramming. This is making us miss out on real moments. 

We are losing out on real connections even though we might have 1000 friends but we longer have those 3 close friends, that we need. 

We are messaging people all day long but we feel like we are missing something. What we are missing is a real connection, that can only be achieved by being present in the moment. 

Instant gratification

When someone likes our pictures or we get a view on our Tiktok video we get instant gratification. Instant gratification is the need to experience fast and short term pleasure. When we receive a like on a picture our brain produces dopamine (a chemical in our brain that is associated with pleasure and reward). We get used to receiving this instant gratification all the time.

We get into this vicious cycle, where we start expecting these hits of dopamine. 

Ever refreshed your page constantly after putting up a picture? Felt anxious, lonely and sad because you didn’t get the likes you expected? Well, that is the result of not getting that instant gratification, dopamine hit, and we all experience that to a certain degree.

When we don’t receive the hit we start thinking that we are ugly and no one likes us which isn’t true. This plays on our self esteem and confidence levels. 

Not living in the moment

We don’t live to enjoy the moment, we live for the picture. We stage our lives to look like we had the best experience instead of enjoying that experience. I am guilty of doing this myself. I will take pictures of my food instead of enjoying it hot. I’ll go to a beautiful destination and take pictures and leave. Instead of doing what we should do is sit down and enjoy nature.

Travel becomes about taking the best pictures instead of living for the experience. 

So, what can one do to reduce the negative impact of social media?

We can unplug ourselves from social media for a few hours in the day. This is time we can use for self care.

We can stop comparing ourselves to others Instagram life and instead be grateful for the life we have been given. It is easier said than done but we can start by realizing that that life is not someone’s real life.  

When we are doing something cool or fun we can focus on the activity instead of just taking pictures after pictures. 

Those memories will stay in our heads. Our brain is the camera that has been capturing pictures in the form of memories for us.

Taking one picture is okay but just doing things for pictures is what is impacting our health.

When we are having moments with our friends and family put the phone away. Enjoy the real life interaction instead of the social media interaction.

Realizing the negative impact social media is having is the first step we can take to protect ourselves from the effect.

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