Social media can have a major impact on our lives, twisting our emotions and causing fatigue and exhaustion, according to experts.
During a recent trip, I found a copy of USA Today — yes, I picked up a physical copy of a newspaper rather than browsing on a device — and found an interesting article about people being exhausted from too much social media.
It’s easy to dismiss such a claim. Social media doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that can cause emotional stress unless you allow yourself to get wrapped up in other people’s drama and we surely all know how to prevent that, right?
Apparently, we don’t.
A therapist in New York told USA Today social media can “run the gamut from being fabulously uplifting to being totally depressing and exhausting,” and that this applies for all ages of users.
What’s the problem? For one thing, social media can be quite addicting. If you doubt that, try this little test: starting right now, take a one week break from all social media. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no Instagram. Nope, you can’t post something about taking a break so that your friends can all respond. As of right now, you’re off the social grid: you’re disconnected for seven days. No exceptions.
For some of us, the idea alone is scary. That’s probably the easiest way I can think of to prove that we might just have a problem here.
Some of us, of course, have learned how to mitigate the risk since we have jobs that force us to regularly use social media in its various forms.
One of the most ironic aspects of this is that the more socially connected we are, the more socially isolated we may feel. Yes, you read that correctly.
Why? Experts blame the “comparison factor.” Consider this from the Forbes report:
We fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through our feeds, and make judgements about how we measure up. One study looked at how we make comparisons to others posts, in “upward” or “downward” directions — that is, feeling that we’re either better or worse off than our friends.
Strangely enough, on social media, feeling you’re better off or or worse off than your peers can lead to depression, while in real life, it’s generally only feeling worse off that makes us feel bad.
And then there’s this bit of news that caught me by surprise: despite the fact Facebook can host some of the most bitter arguments, it’s actually Instagram that’s credited as having the most negative impact on our emotions, according to a survey of 1,500 teens:
While the photo-based platform got points for self-expression and self-identity, it was also associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.”
Maybe that sudden social media vacation doesn’t sound so bad after all.