11 January 2018

Discuss - Is social media healthy?


So, one of my new year goals was to post regularly on this blog, ironically new years was over a week ago and I have yet to post anything… So yeah, if any of you are feeling bad about struggling with new years resolutions, just know that I’ve pretty much failed before the year has even started. Anyway, as much as I love dwelling on my failures, what I really want to discuss today is social media or, more specifically, the impacts of social media.

While I was writing my personal statement, I came across a recent psychological experiment by UCL (University college London) (1), which tracked the rise and fall of self esteem in relation to likes and dislikes from an online social media account. Although the study didn’t mention a big increase in self esteem for a like, it did state that when participants received a dislike “their self-esteem took a hit,” especially when they expected it to be a like. The study then went on to link low self-esteem with depression and anxiety. This really got me thinking about whether social media is necessarily ‘healthy.’

With the constant stream of seemingly perfect lives on social media, whether through, photos on Instagram, videos on Youtube, or even the odd post on Facebook, it’s fair to say societal pressure Is at an all-time high. Unlike in the dark ages, when you could avoid all the glossed over ads and school/work pressures when you came home, it is now near impossible to escape them. And yes, why not just turn off your phone? Delete your accounts? Quit the internet? And to that I say, how many of you have tried this and failed? Tried turning off their internet for a while before realising, oops, work needed to email me something, or, I forgot to reply to him! Because I think the pressure to be online, is on par with the societal pressures created in the online world. Think about it, have you ever felt guilty about switching your phone off for a while? What’s more, is the expectation to be online. Work, or even school, will expect you to reply to emails even when your working day is over. So, essentially, the line between the stress of work and calm of home is blurred. Is this right?  

It’s easy to forget that content posted on social media is usually filtered, people don’t want to show their struggles or sad days, I sure don’t. But then does this affect us? And how does this affect younger children who may not fully understand this? In fact, the adaa stated that anxiety disorders affect 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old in the US (2), and another study showed that there has been a significant increase in the amount of young people (12-20) who have reported having a major depressive episode (3). Could social media play a small role in this? It’s safe to say, that even as a 19-year-old, who understands that social media rarely reflects reality, I have felt the pressures of it. The relentless need for that ‘perfect’ Instagram, the disappointment when a post gets only a few likes, or even just that nagging feeling that I need to be more outgoing and fun to reflect the countless club and Uni photos I see on my timeline. Personally, I feel like there’s this endless need to show a ‘perfect’ life, despite perfection being a fictional concept. Potentially even just a need for validation, I mean, why do we even post certain photos online?

Of course, it would be unfair to talk about social media without addressing the positives. Alongside enabling us to easily stay in contact with family and friends, I think one of the biggest positives is how it can be used to promote change and spread a wealth of information. You’re no longer confined to one opinion or one side of the story. Social media has also created thousands of new, more creative jobs, I mean I am blogging this… and personally, I think this is incredible. I was actually talking to a friend about what her friends went on to do after University, and was surprised to find that 3 were actually working for Gleam (the company that manages Youtubers)! I mean how amazing is that!?


Personally, I have a very love hate relationship with social media. While I have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and love seeing other people’s photos and hearing about their lives, I feel like sometimes I’m not sure whether it always makes me happy. I find it hard not to compare myself to others, which I think is very human and natural. On the flip side to this, being able to easily talk to my friends, meet incredible new people and blog does make me happy. I also know that as a (sort of) blogger and just person-who-uses-the-internet, I also feed into this idealistic, unobtainable perfection by mostly only posting happy things and (sometimes) edited photos. So, do I think social media is healthy? I’m still undecided. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, do you think social media is healthy? Do you think it affects teens more? Does it somehow link to the current high rates of anxiety and depression? Please leave your thoughts below!  


Leave your thoughts and answers below!

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References: 
1. Science Daily, (2017). Self Esteem Mapped in the human brain, [online], Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171024103319.htm [Accessed 10/01/2018].  
2.  Anxiety and Depression Assiociation of America, (2017). Facts and statistics, [online], Available at: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics# [Accessed 10/01/2018]
3. Schrobsdorff, S. (2016). There's a startling increase in major depression among teens in the US, Time magazine, [online]. Available at: http://time.com/4572593/increase-depression-teens-teenage-mental-health/ [Accessed 10/01/2018] 

Other resources: 
  • Mental Health Foundation, (2018). Statistics, [online], Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics [Accessed 10/01/2018] 
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists, (2015), Depression : Key Facts, [online] Available at: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/depressionkeyfacts.aspx [Accessed 10/01/18]




29 comments so far

  1. I have often wondered whether social media and anxiety are related. There is so much pressure to check in, upload a pretty picture or write an interesting status. It can get a bit much at times so I try and have breaks when necessary. On the positives, it’s so awesome to be able to connect with others and be inspired. So I’d say it’s all good, just in moderation. Great post Meera, very thoughtful and well written <3

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com

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    1. Breaks are definitely needed and I think it's great that you see that! I totally agree that it's the perfect way to keep inspired and meet others. Thanks Lena, so glad you liked it <3

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  2. This was a really thought-provoking post! I couldn't agree more that it is often difficult to remember that the way in which people betray their lives on social media (especially on Instagram where eeeeeeverything is filtered) is not necessarily reflective of their real lives. After all, it's very rare that anyone will post a picture of themselves looking like crap after a really bad day at work on their Instagram feed! I also have a really love hate relationship with social media, I really love the fact that it connects me to so many people and gives me the opportunity to share aspects of my own life, but I can totally understand how it negatively impacts on more impressionable younger people - it's a tough one to negotiate!

    Abbey xx

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    1. It's such a hard one to place! and I fully agree with your thoughts too. Instagram is definitely not a reflection of true life and I think can be quite a pressure especially to younger children.

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  3. I have realized that social media can have a really bad effect on your confidence, self-love and mental health. But I think it is like many other things. You need to be able to separate things. Like social media and real life are 2 different things! xx corinne

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    1. This is so true! I guess there are many things like this, it's just that social media seems to be something that is un-escapable unlike the other pressures which you can usually get away from xx

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  4. Lately I have been seeing these posts that say "if anyone's post makes you feel like you need to be someone else, unfollow them". I find that once I started following that mindset, I was a lot less inclined to compare myself to others. I love seeing people post a "a day in the life" that are incredibly honest, those are so relatable and combat the highlight reel theme that everyone else seems to have!

    Thanks for such a moving post. Xx SOS

    www.goodbyebutterfly.com

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    1. I've actually not seen those, but yes thats completely true! I love a day in the life posts too (I think I'm probably just a lil too nosy aha) so glad you enjoyed reading it! x

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  5. Such a great and interesting post.
    I definitely think social can have negative impact on your mental health.

    http://littlemissmelanie.com

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  6. This is so interesting and honestly I think about this a lot. I feel like I was in school when the likes of Instagram were in their infancy and so, for all we were using it, there was no pressure with it yet. I feel so sorry for girls a few years younger than me who have never really known anything different to Instagram looking like a page from Vogue. I definitely think social media and self esteem are heavily related, especially for younger people. It's really sad. (I'm 23)x

    Sophie
    www.glowsteady.co.uk

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    1. I often think about that too! I feel like young people have so much pressure on them to look/be a certain way. omg really!? I chose the 18-21 category on your poll, so close aha!x

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  7. Good points to bring up Meera! Social media definitely has it's pro's and cons. Understanding that most of what we see is highly filtered is important, especially for the younger ones. For myself personally I find keeping up with social media to be very time consuming more than anything. Taking time to unplug regularly is a must.

    Paolo
    www.psbarbosa.com

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    1. I completely forgot to mention how time consuming it is, but yes that is definitely something to put with the negatives too. I find that I waste a lot of time just aimlessly scrolling on sm. I agree taking time to unplug is 100% a must!

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  8. This is such a good post. I'm a freelance Social Media Manager as well as running my own blog so I'm online pretty much all day every day, including weekends. Most of the time (!) I love it but occasionally I do feel like throwing my phone away for a week - oh, wait, maybe that's what's supposed to happen on holiday, haha. Seriously though, social media does have its place, especially in war situations for example, where the outside world would have no idea what was going on without social media. But where it's not a matter of life and death I think we could all do with remembering that most of what we see and read has been curated and filtered to present a certain viewpoint, it's not always real life. Sorry for the ramble, hope this makes sense! Lovely post, thank you for sharing. X

    Lisa | www.lisasnotebook.com

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    1. It's so interesting to hear your point of view considering your job is basically all social media! I can imagine that taking breaks on holiday would be so difficult, I mean its just so easy to pick up your phone and go back online (to work!). I totally agree with your points and they do make sense! Thanks for reading x

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  9. This is such a great intellectual post. I have often thought similar things regarding social media and agree that it's difficult to stick to getting rid of it mainly due to how addictive it is! I always love Simon Sineks views on social media and the addiction side of it but also feel it's great in terms of if a child or teen goes missing, social media has the ability to be shared all over the world in such a short space of time and helps with crime etc too. Great post! Xx
    www.allthingspops.co.uk

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  10. What a very thought provoking post! I feel the exact same, I have a real love hate relationship with social media. Whilst I've learnt not to compare myself to other people on social, my issue is with time. I waste SO much time scrolling and it's so irrelevant! x

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  11. I think it can be quite unhealthy! When you're stressing over followers and how many likes something gets it can overtake your life. But if you're using it for fun and just enjoying the posts of others it's a lot more chill. I really think it depends on perspective x

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  12. muy cierto todo, creo que las redes sociales tiene muchos lados buenos y claro tambien los malos, pero todo va depende de las expectativas que tenemos de ellas, mejor que lo dejemos como un fluir de la consciencia y no en publicar solo lo "bonito" asi la vida queda más real.
    un besog guapi , da gusto leer hablar de esto en blogs.

    www.amoriosdelamoda.blogspot.com

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  13. I feel the same way, I feel like I love social media because I can grow my circle, but at the same time social media feels so impersonal. Especially being a blogger and participating in follow for follows and such, it just feels like numbers and it kind of makes me forget the individual behind the profile! great post xx

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  14. For me it’s a bit of both! Depending on what I use social media for that is. I’ve noticed that with social media, the negatives include people stalking you on all platforms when you don’t speak to them anymore, or friends wanting a nosey then making snide comments in real life. Also, the negative feeling when people judge your blog or ask you to change things. In my opinion, people have their own views of their blog and like certain things.
    The good side is that it’s fun and also you get to meet so many other people. It’s rewarding to post on social media. And also a great way to look back on things you have done a year ago or a few years ago.

    Kelly
    http://www.thiswayandthatway.com

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  15. Such a thoughtful and well-written blog post! And I love that you included sources - so often, there's only the vague criticism of "but it doesn't show reality", so it's great to get more insight!
    I kind of just assume that everyone else's life is just as messy and chaotic as mine and gets filtered (literally and figuratively) through what we choose to upload. I know I do it myself, so I don't feel pressured to compare.
    But I do love time off from technology in general and could definitely use more of that...

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  16. This post made me think a lot about social media and its impact on me and my life.
    And I really loved that you mentioned sources. It would be really interesting to read them!

    Frertsu
    https://kirakiratsu.com

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  17. This is such a thoughtful post! Personally I don't really feel the pressure of social media because I know everyone has their issues/negativity that they don't often wish to share on social media. Although as a blogger, I know that numbers are important because we always want to improve and grow our audience but it is also so important to know that you shouldn't compare yourself to another 'big blogger' because we all grow at different paces :)

    Stephanie
    www.stephanievivienne.com

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  18. Think i lost my massive comment but i remember before the internet but i think the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls.


    Www.beautyreviewsandbargains.co.uk

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  19. This post really made me think.. What do I think about social media? Is it healthy? I don't think I can really answer. It really helped me to get out of my shell and it helps me when I'm too sick (I'm chronically ill) to get out of the house. But is it healthy? This is probably one of my favorite posts! It really invites to think about this subject. I might even write a blogpost about it. Really well done, masterful post!
    x Angela / SincerelyAngiejj.com

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  20. Meera, thanks for bringing up this topic! I'm a bit undecided myself also. Blogging and some social media has been extremely rewarding and fulfilling for me, namely Twitter. I've been able to express myself openly through writing and have built some great online relationships through Twitter. However, I've found when I use Facebook especially I am personally affected when a post or comment is ignored, not liked, or when someone unfriends me. In that respect no, social media is not healthy for me. I think like many things in life it's not a black and white answer. You have to find what works for you and not be afraid to walk away from what doesn't.

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  21. This is really interesting. I always find that social media does make me feel a bit annoyed. Blogging and social media go hand in hand, but I always need to take a break from it every now and then. I think it's healthy to take a break (for me at least!).

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