Understanding the negative effects of social media

How much time do you spend on social media?

Social media has changed the way that we interact with one another, and while it has had its positive impacts on the world, it also has adverse effects on our well-being.

Although it is okay to use and post on the various social media platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, it is important to take note that there are many ways that social media can be detrimental to both our mental and physical health.

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First, it can serve as a huge distraction. Everyone already knows this, and almost everyone has fallen victim at least once to the time sink of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, gaining little to no substance in the end. The key is moderation. This is something everyone has experienced doing, but it is important to actually put it into practice. It is way too easy to fall into the rhythm of scrolling for 20 minutes.

You may know this implicitly, but might not completely recognize right away, is that people commonly use social media to seek validation. They may post things as a way to express themselves, but ultimately, the goal of an Instagram post is to get a high number of likes and comments.

Something I noticed a while back is that often when someone posts something on Instagram, they will explicitly tell people to like and comment on that post. They shout themselves out on their Snapchat stories, and sometimes even ask other people to do the same. The phrase “like my recent” has become a common sight on Snapchat and Instagram stories. This is a testament to their need to receive likes, and positive reinforcement, on their posts.

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Seeing the number of likes go up is satisfying, and it can also be addictive. The need for validation becomes persistent and leads to comparing yourself to other people and their posts. You see that they have more followers than you do, and their posts get more likes and comments, and from there, the comparisons get worse and more frequent.

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Realize that what you see on social media is fake. No one’s life is as exciting as they are portrayed to be. People can easily doctor a photo to enhance their appearance. Knowing this is extremely important, because people can develop insecurities from comparing themselves to others on social media, and envying qualities that are seen as conventionally attractive, but are unattainable. This can lead to being self-conscious about your “faults” and even feeling depressed.

It is perfectly fine to be active on social media, because it is a fun way to stay connected with people and explore new ideas. However, if you notice that you are spending too much time scrolling through Instagram, or if you find yourself feeling insecure after seeing other people’s posts, then it is time for a break.

Gabe Henstrand is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.