Social Media’s Negative Impact on Mental Health

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Social media is an excellent tool for connecting with others. But excessive use can be extremely harmful to your mental health.

Social Media is an inevitable part of our daily lives. But overuse can warp our perception of reality. PHOTO: dole777/Unsplash

Whether it’s when we’re on the bus commuting to work, or when we’re staring at our phones moments before going to bed, social media has become part of our daily lives.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is an excellent tool for connecting with others, catching up on the latest news, and perhaps even creating new opportunities. But excessive use can be extremely harmful to your mental health.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

We must understand that social media is not a true reflection of people’s lives. What you see on Instagram or Facebook is almost always curated carefully to show the highlights of each person’s life. Whilst using social media, we as humans would sometimes inevitably and unintentionally compare our own lives with what we see.

When we spend too much time on social media and you compare our own lives to what we see on these ‘highlight reels’, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem; Seeing your friend enjoying her trip to Hawaii does not mean that her life is full of glitz and glam. People often only choose to highlight and ‘flex’ their highs while hiding their lows.

LinkedIn is also guilty of invoking these comparisons at times. It can be tough seeing your peers get that promotion at work, or flaunting their new position at a big company, but if you let that affect you negatively instead of using it as fuel for motivation, it can lead to bitterness and overall, be negative for one’s mental health.

Unrealistic Expectations of Romantic Relationships

Social Media is guilty of setting unrealistic expectations of how ideal relationships should be like. PHOTO: Timur Weber/Pexels

As mentioned before, social media is a ‘highlight reel’ of someone’s life and what you see posted on social media may not be a true reflection of themselves. When it comes to relationship, you might come across a few friends or influencers sharing moments with their loved ones, and you think to yourself: ‘why can’t my relationship be like that?’.

Whether it pertains to appearance, sex, or even lifestyle, we as humans have a natural disposition to compare and envy.

This can cause disappointment and frustration in our own relationships, as we compare them to the highlight reels of others. This in turn negatively impacts our expectations and understanding of what a healthy romantic relationship should look like.

The truth is, relationships are messy and imperfect, but social media only shows us the polished version and doesn’t show us an accurate representation of what happens behind the scenes. We should instead focus on important aspects such as trust, mutual respect, and open communication, rather than basing the relationship on superficial sentiments.

The Illusion of a Large Social Circle

On social media, we tend to base our value on follower count and/or likes. PHOTO: Karsten Winegeart/Unsplash

Ah, who can forget that rush of dopamine when you get a new follower, or when your LinkedIn post goes viral? Social media makes us perceive our worth to equate to the number of likes we receive and this creates an illusion of a larger social circle. However, this virtual social circle lacks the depth and intimacy of real-life relationships, and is largely superficial.

Ultimately, if you begin to value your self-worth on these superficial numbers, it will lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, as we rely on virtual connections instead of forming meaningful in-person relationships.

Time to Put the Phone Down

Social Media can be fun, and entertaining, but it should never replace or affect the connections and interactions you make in real life.

By focusing on self-care, self-acceptance, and meaningful in-person relationships, we can balance out the negative effects of social media and promote overall mental well-being.

Remember, it’s okay to take a break from social media and put your phone down. Your mental health is worth it.


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