Social media and mental health are intrinsically linked, especially considering how much we use social channels today. Although there may be some benefits to be found within the act of social networking, a study from MIT Sloan reveals that people who use social media more often may become more depressed.
Access to sites like Facebook has even been shown to increase severe depression among students by 7 percent and anxiety disorder by 20 percent. The collision of mental health and social media cannot be denied, and there are a number of significant ways that social media can negatively impact relationships, too.
You Are Subjected to Social Pressure
One of the ways that social media can harm your mental health is by exposing you to a constant barrage of content that places unwarranted social pressure on you. You may end up feeling the need to match unrealistic standards for beauty and lifestyle.
Not only does this make you more prone to excess spending but it can also lead to more problematic threads like cyberbullying and feeling the stress of needing to conform. Along with subjecting yourself to added anxiety, this may also impact the way you interact with and perceive other people (both strangers and friends.)
You Are Prone to Comparison
When you constantly scroll through social networking sites, there is a tendency to end up comparing yourself to others. This can cover a variety of aspects in your life, from your looks down to what you perceive as “achievements” in life. Because you are entrenched in the curated content of other people’s ideals and lives, you can be more prone to self-comparison.
Some of the negative effects of self-comparison include feeling a sense of inadequacy, low self-esteem, poor goal accomplishment, and resentment. The more you compare yourself to others, the more you hinder yourself from achieving your own goals. It also develops a base feeling of irritation towards others when they do well. It’s very problematic when you start breeding a habit of envy, as it is self-destructive and may make you prone to bringing other people down.
Consuming Polarized Content Can Make You Less Open to Others
Social media has a tendency to create echo chambers on typical polarizing topics. You only hear information that confirms your bias, and this ends up fueling the fire of animosity between different groups. This can end up hurting your personal relationships as you become less open to discourse and different views on certain topics.
A study on this echo chamber effect on social media shows that feed algorithms and prolonged consumption of them result in further polarization between opposing views because narratives and misinformation are prioritized. This sort of dynamic can easily trickle into real-life actions, hampering your ability to connect with other people.
You May Become Inauthentic With Your Peers
One of the negative effects of social media is a tendency to become more inauthentic with not just strangers but your own peers. As you feel the need to present your best self on social media, you are more likely to try and curate every aspect of your life to meet that ideal. It’s a very slippery slope if you try to match a specific narrative you’ve created on social media.
It’s important to stay true to yourself as you foster real relationships with your peers, especially because having a core support group is important to maintain your mental well-being.
You Can Neglect Real Life Connections
A lot of people end up developing an addiction to social media. It’s important to recognize these signs as it ends up messing with your headspace and interfering with your relationships beyond social media. Make sure you are not spending excessive amounts of time on social media. If you feel anxious without access to social media or end up not noticing the people around you, it may be a sign that you are neglecting real-life relationships. Prioritize your real-life interactions and you’ll be more present and be able to foster the essential components of a healthy relationship. Proper communication and trust are just some of the foundations you don’t want to break down for the sake of socials.
You Can Be Exposed to Harmful Individuals
Social media doesn’t just negatively impact your ability to maintain your relationships. It also increases your risk of forming inherently negative relationships with harmful individuals.
It’s hard to discern a person’s real intentions and character simply based on their social media presence. In fact, statistics reveal that around 41 percent of US adults online have been catfished at least once.