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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Social Media; Impact On Our Mental And Social Health.

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We live in a world where our phones are constantly attached to our person, whether it be in our bags, in our pockets or glued directly to our hands. While social media allows us to easily connect with people around the world, the potential to carry around an excessive amount of problems within these devices haunts us with just a single notification.

Social media is arguably one of the fastest growing innovations in the world today. It emerged as a concept in 1997 with a website called Six degrees, which enabled people to add others as friends and create a profile for themselves. From there, the concept grew and expanded across multiple websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and more recently established mobile applications like Snapchat and Instagram.

With such a rapid change in the way we communicate and interact with others, one has to take a step back and wonder if our social media management is up to par. Specifically, how is social media affecting our mental and social health?

According to Mary Harris, a Communications professor at Monmouth University, “Social media platforms are designed to get people to keep checking and returning frequently,” says Harris. “Unfortunately, notifications via the like button operate like little hits of dopamine to the brain. And depending on the individual user, this causes an addiction to the constant feedback loop.”

When individuals are constantly engaging with social media, they are also exposing themselves to the distorted lifestyles of the people they follow.

Oftentimes, people want others to see them as happy and living an exciting life but, in reality, nobody’s lives are that perfect. 

So why advertise your life as something it’s not? Social media provides people with the perfect opportunity to showcase themselves as the person they want to be rather than the person they are.  So they’ll edit their photos and post about the cute thing their significant other did for them that day. What they won’t post are the photos they weren’t ready for or the fight they had with their significant other, you get the idea.

For people that suffer from issues relating to esteem and self-concept, social media is a breeding ground for exacerbating these problems. It is important to understand that others can edit what they want others to see as well as the fact that pictures can be airbrushed.

However, being a player in this game can cause people a great amount of stress. When the number of likes received on a post comes as a source of validation, it can lead to a heavy reliance on those likes. When considering the age groups that are exposed to this mindset through their social media use, one needs to take into account the younger generation, specifically millennials and adolescents.

Adreea Dilorenzo a Psychology professor points out that, social media users in this age group “are certainly at risk since they are experiencing hormonal changes and identity formations, both while being inexperienced. The continuous connection and the materials that they are exposed to can hinder logic.”

While social media can be linked to anxiety, impulsiveness, self-comparison and depression, how we use it is more to blame than its existence. As users, it is our responsibility to be aware of the effect these platforms have on our lives. People need to become more media literate and educated on the effects media can potentially have on an individual, either consciously or subconsciously, so that they can be aware of and monitor the impact it’s having on their own lives.

Taking a step back from social media allows one to put into perspective what really matters in life. While partaking in social media, we tend to lose track of our reality because we are so infatuated with the events in the virtual world. 

Try putting down the phone and have a face-to-face conversation with your friends. With the weather becoming nicer, take a step out into the fresh air, go on a walk with the family or take a ride around town to unwind. Just enjoy yourself but don’t do it for the opportunity to post on social media; do it for you.

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Festus Oppong Kwabena Asante (FOKA)https://fokawrites.com
Festus Oppong Kwabena Asante is an avid reader, kopite, web designer/developer, journalist and sports writer. He is an art and poetry lover, whose favorite pastime is to watch his beloved REDS conquer all of England, Europe and the World. P.S. Not necessarily in that order.
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  1. I'd say the age restriction should be implemented forcefully and parental control should be considered, to avoid even a ten year old kid lying about their age and successfully creating an SM account. Still though SM is a necessary evil lol.


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