Like every other invention, social media has its pros and cons, one of its common cons being causing anxiety and other mental issues to many of its users. This affects both people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) and without.
According to the Global Digital Report 2019, there are 3.484 billion social media users worldwide. In India, 23% of the population uses social media. Given that it is the platform where people get to connect and share, it is no surprise that it would have reached in every corner of the globe. People get to share their accomplishments and achievements, their talents and creativity, their milestones and memories, as well as their losses and pain, for others to see.
While this phenomenon certainly is a good way to connect and stay in touch with loved ones, acquaintances and new friends, it is also the cause of anxiety and depression for many of its users. It has caused many mental health issues, which has even driven people to death by suicide.
Anxiety caused by social media is more common in teenagers and young adults.
Let’s take at how and why:
Fear of missing out:
FOMO is one of the major factors that play a role in adopting anxiety. Mental health specialists say that when people see pictures online of parties or weddings that weren’t invited to or couldn’t attend due to different schedules, it lowers their self-esteem. They feel left out and many develop the feeling that they are not important.
Comparison and envy:
When a social media user, who has been working hard to make ends meet, sees photos or videos of their friends vacationing, succeeding in career and life or showing off the latest product of a brand on his/her feed, he/she tends to begin making comparisons and feel despair and envious. This can cause self-consciousness, which can further lead to anxiety.
Let’s say, hypothetically, two sisters share their pictures on their separate accounts. If Sister 1 gets more engagement than Sister 2, Sister 2 will feel like she matters less to her peers. This can cause an inferiority complex. She will feel inadequate and crave validation. This can further cause social anxiety.
According to a survey done in 2018 among Generation Z, out of 1,000 individuals, more than third admitted to developing anxiety, depression, and sadness and state that they would quit social media.
As addictive and effective as it is, social media can also be a dark place for many people. 8 out of 10 individuals are subject to the different types of cyberbullying in India, according to research conducted by Symantec. These victims suffer from depression and often develop suicidal thoughts.
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“No there’s nothing wrong,” wrote SNL star, Pete Davidson, on Instagram before deleting it. “No nothing happened. No there’s nothing cryptic about anything. I just don’t wanna be on Instagram anymore. Or on any social media platform. The internet is an evil place and it doesn’t make me feel good.”
Remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Give your mind a break every now and then from social media to avoid its clutches as, again, it can be addictive and harmful to many people, especially to those who are sensitive.