Social Media: Helping or Hurting?
By Brandy Hanson, LPC
The original concept for the purpose of social media was to bring people together. And it did. Social media made communicating with family and friends anywhere in the world instantaneously possible. People began creating their own online social communities and, well, we all know what followed. As technology grew, it took on a life of its own, and today the boundaries of technology are limited only by the limits of our own collective imagination.
Except somewhere along the way, technology and social media also began to divide us, to isolate us, and to decrease our actual face-to-face communication. Who hasn’t gone to a restaurant to see a table full of people not talking to one another, but each glued to their own digital device? When our digital lives take precedence over our real lives, that’s a problem. One way this manifests in individuals is in the form of increased anxiety and depression. One term for this, according to anxiety.org, is social media anxiety. In this case, social media is described as an “anxiety-provoking factor.” Anxiety.org reports that the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and ‘Compare and Despair’ are the two main triggers.
As a therapist, I see social media anxiety as a very real threat to one’s mental health and well-being. If you are wondering if you might be experiencing social media anxiety, ask yourself how you feel when using social media? Does it lift you up or bring you down? Do you have feelings of jealousy and envy? Are you disappointed if your post doesn’t get as many likes as you wanted? Do you feel anxious waiting to see comments after you post?
If so, you may consider examining how social media affects you. The good news is that there is help, and that you don’t have to continue to suffer from social media anxiety. You can make the choice to take control of your digital life, instead of it controlling you.