It's fair to say that social media, despite still being relatively new to the world, has impacted us all in ways nobody could have seen coming. You can now open a profile on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, Periscope, WhatsApp - have we missed any? You might use social media for work or for personal reasons, but you should always remember to use it with caution.
If someone dares to mention that they do not have any social media accounts then we become instantly suspicious. What are they really hiding? How do they keep in touch with people? We find them mysterious and can't believe someone would actively choose not to engage in social media. There's no logic behind our opinion at all and maybe, if we rethought their right to make that decision, they are actually some of the happiest people in the world.
Psychologist Dr. Paul Durlofsky wrote for Main Line Today, "Although social media relationships can have a positive effect on us emotionally, numerous studies have been conducted linking social networking to depression, social isolation, eliciting feelings of envy, insecurity and poor self-esteem." Here are some shocking and quite disturbing ways that social media can effect us mentally.
15 A False Reality
Let's be honest: social media is mostly full of humble brags. You can't scroll once through your news feed without reading, "Can't believe I got the job!" or "Look at my new car/house/handbag!" People use social media to feed their own egos and glorify their day to day lives.
Rarely will you hear people be honest and confess that things aren't going very well in their relationship or that they are having problems with family. This can leave a social media user feeling very low as they think, "Why do bad days only happen to me and nobody else." Don't forget to keep focused on what is reality and never doubt that you aren't able to achieve too.
14 Interrupted Sleep Patterns
Lack of sleep has been linked to ongoing depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. According to a report by Business Insider, 25% of people do not silence their phone before they go to sleep at night. They also discovered that 10% of people are woken by messages and a staggering 50% of people look at their phone if they wake up in the middle of the night.
Holding a luminous screen just inches away from your nose when you're trying to sleep doesn't help either. How can you sleep better? It's time to get old fashioned - have a bath, put your pyjamas on and read a book under lamplight. This will stop your mind from looking over at the endless amount of information available on the internet.
13 Increased Anxiety Levels
Social media takes up a lot of space in our minds with extra worries and anxieties about how we present ourselves to the outside world. You take a Sunday afternoon selfie and upload it to Instagram then after 15 minutes receive just one like. Instead of thinking logically that most people will be having dinner with family, you just automatically assume that your selfie was hideous and everyone is against you.
Often our anxiety can also be caused by knowing that we are up to no good. Author Bibi Deitz wrote for The Rumpus, "I used to live in fear that, when I stalked people, I’d mistakenly type their name in the “What’s on your mind?” box and press enter."
12 You Are Constantly Being Sold To
A major problem with indulging in social media is that you are, believe it or not, a consumer. You have free access to these services because you are constantly surrounded by adverts and the latest must-have products. Having so much choice thrown at you can prompt over-spending as we are only two clicks away from purchasing online.
However, spending money on materialistic goods can leave you feeling miserable. In an article for Psychology Today, lecturer Steve Taylor explained, "No matter how much we get, it's never enough. As Buddhism teaches, desires are inexhaustible. The satisfaction of one desire just creates new desires, like a cell multiplying."
11 Poor Real-Life Relationships
Some of us share the most intimate details of our lives with absolute strangers. Sure, maybe that housemate you once shared a place with three years ago for two weeks got on really well with - but did you really become that close?
Instead of making an effort with a friend's birthday, you now just send them a quick "HB!" You also won't attend their party unless they make a proper event and invite you online. Forgetting about the people who really matter and instead caring about the opinions of people you hardly know will eventually detach you from what really matters.
10 Poor Concentration
Ten years ago the average attention span was twelve minutes long, nowadays studies have shown that this has dropped to as low as five minutes. The reason behind this is that our brains are becoming rewired to adapt to this technological age. The thought process used online is different to that when reading a novel, in short - you don't have to think hard when reading online.
Many people struggle to stick to long tasks as we are so used to being distracted online every few minutes. As technology is advancing each day, we can't expect any future rise in our ability to concentrate and will just have to settle for it shortening over time. As Albert Einstein said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”
9 Lack Of Productivity
You open your computer to do work, then BOOM you have been sucked into the internet and now it's hours of cat videos instead of working on that important project. People who don't let social media get in the way of productivity do this by scheduling only three sessions of five minutes a day.
In this time you can reply to messages, check up on family and update on your day. If there is an emergency that needs your attention, then those that matter will have your personal contact numbers and you should no longer feel tied down to social media.
8 Over Analysing Every Decision
Often when we are on social media it can feel as if the entire world is watching. One simple selfie of you smiling at the camera in your swimsuit can begin an hour of scrutiny.
Instead of just uploading a picture of you enjoying the moment, the eyes can wander over the legs, the arms and the hair always finding problems. Over-thinking our every move will steal happiness from us as we should just enjoy letting go.
7 Not Allowing Yourself Any Privacy
The lack of transparency that we are expected to have online has grown rapidly in expectations over the years. Facebook is always trying to improve the privacy issues that users have but if you are active online then these problems won't ever go away.
All our personal information, current locations, family members and place of work is encouraged to be displayed on our profiles. Our photographs are uploaded and almost anyone can see what we are up to. Employers are now in the habit of checking up on candidates before they arrange an interview. Feeling so exploited can lead to feelings of insecurity and vulnerability in the long term.
6 Passive Aggressive Arguments
Confrontation is easier online as you don't have to be directly opposite your opponent. Emotionally, over time, this can have a serious negative impact as even passive aggressive attacks still hurt.
A standard online argument is a bitter battle in private messages followed by a swift unfollow. Then there are other fights which are played out in front of others, comments piling in as you battle it out with a frenemy. Funnily enough, despite you both hating each other you still won't use the block button so you can keep an eye out for any bitching. This is a sure sign that social media might not be a happy place for you.
5 No Longer Enjoying Conversation
How many times have you been to dinner with friends and instead of conversing around the table everyone just has their heads stuck staring at phones? If anyone does speak up about something that happened then they might be greeted with, "Oh, we know - saw it on Facebook."
In other cases, there might be someone who's life you read about every day in your news feed but if you passed them on the street you would barely look at each other. Instead of chatting with those sat next to us on public transport, we instead bury our heads in our online world and forget about those around us.
4 Misery Loves Company
A place where billions of people go to connect is surprisingly the loneliest place in the world. According to the Daily Mail researchers found that lonely people are more attracted to social media than others.
Professor Hayeon Song from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee reported, "‘Compared to non-lonely people, lonely people spend more time on Facebook. Lonely individuals who are shy or have low social support may turn to Facebook to compensate for their lack of social skills and/or social networks in face-to-face settings."
3 Feeling Out Of Control
Could you imagine being on a long journey with no phone battery or access to your social media accounts? It's enough to make you wake in the middle of the night screaming. There are many people who struggle with disconnecting online.
Many of us are struck with mild panic when you see a notification that reads, "Your friend recently tagged you in a photo." Feeling out of control on social media is normal behaviour, but allowing these anxieties to take over your life is not and you should control how long you spend online.
2 Envy Of Others
It is an integral part of our nature to constantly compare ourselves to others. Just one look on Instagram and we are left feeling inadequate. You may feel as if you're not attending enough cool parties, keeping up with the latest trends or working out hard enough at the gym. All these feelings can lead to you feeling very envious of others.
According to a statistic published by the Daily Mail, one in five social media users admit they compare themselves to others "based purely on the status updates, pictures and messages from their 'friends' on social media sites."
1 Holding On To Your Painful Past
Holding on to the past can be painful. We are all guilty of stalking from time to time, the reason why is because it's just too easy to snoop at pictures and secretly spy on the life of an ex. This could be damaging you emotionally more than you allow to let on.
The deeper issue is that you are actually addicted to your ex. Jim Pfaus, professor of psychology at Concordia University reported, "Love is actually a habit that is formed from sexual desire as desire is rewarded. It works the same way in the brain as when people become addicted to drugs." To help you recover from your relationship, you will need to no longer feed your underlying addiction and, which is going to be very hard, just go cold turkey.