Nearly every cellphone owner is an active user of multiple social media platforms. We all want to be on Facebook, without missing out on the flashiness of Instagram. Then there is the TwitterNG savagery that is so talked about. How can a person not be on Twitter, in 2020? There’s WhatsApp, Snapchat, Tiktok and a list of other amazing applications that keeps a user having fun while interacting with people from all over the world. But has it ever occurred to you that social media might be a cause of your recurrent episodes of depression?
Now, that is not an attempt at demonizing social media. In fact, I believe social media is great. It has a very close semblance with a room full of mystery gift boxes. Many people have landed life-changing deals by linking with the right people on social media. Some others have met their spouses and business partners through one of these media. The gift of true friendship which is becoming more scarce has also come to a handful just by the click of buttons.
How much time do people spend on social networking platforms?
According to a study, an average African spends more than three hours on social networks daily. That means at least one-eighth of a person’s day is gone to building connections, or simply idling away. Many people list social media as their major source of distraction. For some, it is the reason they get so little done in a long time. And for some others, it is the reason why they are not getting enough sleep.
Aside from the time wastage factor, social media does have other effects on its users. Most of which are barely talked about. As published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, there is “a causal link between the use of social media and negative effects on well-being, primarily depression and loneliness.” When people rush to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with the hope of catching up with friends, what they get is often an overwhelming stream of information. Some flashy make-believes, and filtered pictures of an illusionary life of luxury. The question is, does this have any negative effects?
How does social media worsen depression?
Do you know anyone who gets anxious just at the thought of missing out on some fun in another place they cannot be at a particular time? That kind of anxiety is known as FOMO, i.e the Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is not a myth; it is as real as dawn and dusk. Social media is the chief cause of FOMO in more recent times.
People get on these platforms mostly to kill boredom, connect with like minds and just keep in touch but they are taking in a lot of unhealthy sights. The mind processes these things and before they know it, they begin to feel horrible about themselves. And people who are depressed about themselves are more likely to check people out on social media, making them feel even worse. You know how much damage comparison can do!
Isolation from real people can be harmful and help mild depression progress into something more dangerous. And this is one thing social media has succeeded in doing. It gives us an illusion of a company while we are in dark ghostly rooms, alone with our ‘demons.’ The link between our favorite apps and mental health illness is one that needs to be taken seriously. This is because, keeping one’s sanity in the times we live in, is a lot more difficult than it used to be. Once in a while, take social media breaks or consider using the app freezer on your phone. It is wise to prevent an episode of depression because just like other mental health illnesses, it is difficult to manage.