How many times a day do you log onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or LinkedIn?
Ok fine, I’ll go first.
The first thing I do in the morning while I’m willing myself to drag my butt out of bed is look at my phone. It’s also the last thing I do when I’m already way too tired and just tucking into bed for some much needed sleep.
Unhealthy sleeping patterns aside, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little more dependent on social media than I would like to admit.
The funny thing is, I couldn’t tell you why I feel so compelled to check my Facebook or Instagram. I don’t feel especially fulfilled or happy with myself when I do. In fact, I often feel the opposite.
After I’ve finished scrolling Facebook or Instagram, I feel dissatisfied with myself, and like I’ve just wasted precious time from my life that I’ll never get back.
Now, I don’t know if this is the case for everyone, but I can’t be the only person that feels this way… can I?
I took to the internet to see once and for all if this cycle was a common trend, or just one millennial’s struggle with smart phone dependency.
Google Scholar came to my rescue.
According to numerous studies looking at the effects of social media on various aspects of mental health, there seems to be a fair amount of bad associated with these sites…
- Frequent Facebook users tend to view their online friends as happier than they are based on their posts and pictures.
- “Passive following,” (ie: the aimless scrolling without a whole lot of self-generated activity — guilty as charged) is connected with feelings of less life satisfaction and high degrees of envy
- “Creeping” photos of friends and strangers can add to feelings of self-objectification and body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls. (I’m going to take a wild guess and say we could extrapolate this data to older women as well…)
Needless to say, the picture was starting to look a little bleak, so I thought I would try to find some more positive data. As it happens, not all is lost in the world of social media!
Most notably, Facebook has been found to offer value by creating greater social connectivity with old and new friends. It can also act as a supplement to emotional and social support, and it provides a platform to form new connections through common interests and goals. This increase in social bonding was linked to higher self-esteem.
I know for myself, these positive aspects of social media have become far more applicable since starting the PR program at MacEwan University. Never in my previous academic career had I been a part of such a tight knit group of people at school. In the first week of classes we had started a Facebook group, added everyone onto our social network, and my fellow classmates have been nothing but positive and supportive ever since.
In my unbiased opinion, this is what social media is supposed to be like.
Moral of the story? I need to focus on the productive side of social media, get more sleep, and get out of my own head. As well, if the sample sizes for the studies are of any indication, a lot of people may need to do the same… or just become friends with PR students, because they’ll add a whole lot of positivity to your life.