Social Media can be a great tool with many positive effects. I use it weekly to get my articles out to the world with my blog, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, Tumbler etc. We stay connected with family and friends and our relationships feel as if they are deepening because it’s so easy to stay connected. Social Media allows us to interact with close friends and family no matter how great the physical distance. For those friends and family that are challenging to be in close proximity with, Social Media allows us the contact without the conflict that may arise if we share physical space. It is most useful in times of distress to gain support from others.
We often feel that we know someone just because we see and read so much about them, forgetting that it is what they want us to know about them. They have shared and posted the parts of themselves that for whatever reason they are comfortable with the world knowing. This is very different than having an intimate conversation or a heart to heart with your friends. It’s very easy to start to compare yourself to the life that they have portrayed. Comparing yourself to others often leads to internal disharmony and on social media platforms you are measuring against a manufactured image, not an actual person.
It can be easy to get addicted to the virtual social world as no one can see you unless you want them too. It is safe, it is fun, it is playing a game and fooling yourself into thinking you are connecting with and making real friends.
Look around the next time you are at a restaurant. I’ve had the experience of being seated next to a table where almost the whole family is looking at their phones. I recall being on a subway, jammed in like a sardine with so little room I couldn’t take my hands out of my pockets. Yet, three people around me managed to pull their phones out and play games on their devices. People are so used to being connected to their devices, they don’t know how to be present. Of course on the subway ride I can fully understand them not wanting to be.
Many studies have shown a link between the amount of time spent on social media and the risk of depression and feelings of social isolation.
As with most things, it’s about finding a healthy balance. Limit time on social media to help you control your time in the “virtual world” and be sure to schedule dates to see people “live” – enjoy true connectedness to foster feelings of self-esteem and to eliminate the possibility of feelings of anxiety, depression and social isolation.