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Why Social Media Is Affecting Your Mental Health

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Social media is affecting your mental health. Many people wonder why or how.

The irony is, I am writing this about social media to be posted on social media.

We have become addicted to social media. Social media is just like chocolate and alcohol; it is great in moderation.

On average, teenagers spend nearly nine hours per day on social media. The average person will spend five years and four months on social media over a lifetime. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook… the list goes on. You may have seen the news recently that children as young as 12 are on social media and they feel the pressure it brings, but it’s not just children that it’s affecting. It is affecting us nationwide, young and old.

We scroll through Facebook or Twitter, comparing everyone else’s highlights in their lives to our low points. We are always looking to see who likes our statuses, who has commented and if anyone has “hearted” it. “I have two likes on my profile picture, but that other girl got 15 likes.” You start to question why. Your mind goes into overthinking mode. “Is she prettier than me? Is she more popular than me? Maybe I should use a filter. Should I take that photo down?” Again, the list goes on.

We spend our days comparing our lives to others and we shouldn’t; it is making you feel anxious, depressed and lonely. Loneliness is a big issue at the moment. How can I be lonely when I have more than 150 friends on Facebook? The answer is, out of the 150 friends, 10 or more are your actual friends. How many of those 10 do you meet up with? Maybe two or three.

We are addicted to social media. Addicted is a strong word, but it’s true. Many of us scroll through Twitter or Facebook when we are supposed to be going to sleep. You can’t sleep, so you pick up your phone to see if you have any notifications. Then you will try to sleep but you can’t as the late at night and you just saw a status that someone had a successful interview and got the job. Every interview I have had so far, I have been rejected. Why? What am I doing wrong? Are my grades not high enough? Is my degree not good enough? Am I not good enough?

You only see people’s high points in life on social media. You see people going on nights out, parties, gigs and other social events, and if you’re an introvert like me, you think, “why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I go to parties? Maybe I’d get more likes if I went to a party.” You also see people getting on with their lives, having children, getting married. You start to become anxious if you haven’t had any children yet. Maybe you are not even in a relationship.

There you go again; it’s 2 a.m. and your mind has drifted again.

We should make a goal to limit the use of social media this year, and to stop using filters on every photo you post. No matter how many likes you get, you are beautiful. You are brave. You are you. Instead of scrolling through social media before you shut your eyes, why not turn off your phone a few hours before going to sleep and relax in the company of family, or the people around you? If you can’t sleep, read a book; put on some calming music. I can guarantee you will sleep better and feel better when you look up from your phone and see the world from a different perspective.

Getty Images photo via tommaso79

Originally published: March 7, 2018
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