Qualifier; this does not include Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
It is incredible that in a world where we are more connected on social media than ever, 19 to 30-year-olds are the age group most likely to suffer from chronic loneliness. As reported by the Guardian, millennials could become the first generation to have worse health problems than their parents. Loneliness has been confirmed deadlier than obesity with studies suggesting that lonely people have a 50% increased risk of early death when compared to those with healthy social connections.
We spoke with Adrienna Liu, 21 who recently relocated from Canada to London on how social media affects her social connections. She said, “Social media has shaped our view of things, making us think we have to dress, act and achieve things in a way which puts pressure on social interaction where people see the real us. How I behave on social media is different to the reality”
It seems that social media has tricked a generation into thinking that they are socializing when they are really promoting false images of themselves behind the protection of a computer screen. Is this really providing the emotional nutrition that we all clearly need? It seems the side effects of this diet are loneliness, anxiety, and even depression. According to studies, loneliness in adults is a major precipitant of depression and alcoholism.
With this in mind, perhaps our young adult years should be spent planting seeds for the friendships we need to sustain our mental health. Currently, the obsession with collecting likes and approval from people is something of an epidemic. If it didn't happen on Facebook, did it even happen? Millions of likes and followers do not act as a shield from loneliness. As the recent deaths of well-known celebrities such as the legendary Robin Williams well illustrate, even public icons can suffer from this terrible disease.
Meeting up with a few good friends on a regular basis, and investing time and energy into sustaining those relationships just might be able to save your life. Comparing your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reels online can cause chronic anxiety.
Now, this is not to say that social media cannot be an enjoyable and useful part of life. I guess it’s a little like chocolate. Best in moderation. Setting limits on time spent online may be the best thing you can do for your mental health. Replace time scrolling through Twitter and Instagram comparing yourself intellectually and physically to people you barely know with real conversations and quality time with real people. Social media is like air conditioning, now and then its good to turn it off and breathe in the real stuff.