Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives.
In fact, the last time you were in a restaurant, did you look around at other diners and spot at least one person snapping a pic of their meal before eating? I’d be shocked if you said you didn’t.
We’re being overtaken by social media. We’ve started defining ourselves by likes, snaps, and tweets — and it’s anything but healthy.
In fact, studies are finding that social media affects mood. These studies are showing a strong and significant association between social media use and depression.
To sum it up, the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to be depressed.
But, why? How could something that helps us all stay connected make us depressed?
As humans, we all have a basic need to be liked and accepted by others. Social media preys on this vulnerability.
“Likes” are essentially the currency of social media. It’s like one big popularity contest. However, while winning this popularity contest might give you a temporary boost, it’s short-lived. We often become unsatisfied with this “fix” quickly.
And what happens when we see a drop in those “likes” on our posts? Or, what happens when we realize how much attention someone else is getting over us?
We Compare Ourselves to Curated Existences
One of the most common ways that social media feeds depression? Through comparison.
What we tend to forget is how everyone only posts the very best parts. Everything is carefully arranged and curated in order to show perfection. People only put their best on display.
When you compare your everyday life to this curated existence that someone has put online, you’ll only find unneeded anxiety, stress, and sadness.
Too Much Negativity?
Social media has also become a breeding ground for arguments, fake news, and agenda-driven conversations. This is especially true during particularly divisive times, like during a presidential election year or after major tragedies.
Negativity spreads through social media like wildfire, making users’ blood boil on a daily basis. It can upset you, change the way you view your peers, and even end friendships.
On top of that, being constantly exposed to negativity can make you more negative, too.
Is it a Symptom or a Cause?
Of course, we also have to take into account other factors.
There are likely many complex reasons why there is such a strong link between social media and depression. For instance, it is a possibility that people who are already depressed might be more inclined to rely on social media instead of traditional face to face interactions. In that case, greater social media use would be a symptom, rather than a cause of depression.
Even still, there are plenty of reasons why it might be time for you to step away from social media — even if it’s only for a brief period of time.