Social media has changed the way we connect to other human beings. Differences in language, time zones, and physical location can all be overcome with the use of the Internet.
In some ways, the growing popularity of social media has been a blessing. Family members can stay in touch across greater distances than ever, and people around the world can access the best resources in education and mental health.
Unfortunately, social media also has its dark side. By “putting yourself out there” and becoming involved in social media, you open yourself up to rejection on a whole new level.
Younger people seem to be the most obviously affected. A pre-teen or teenager is most likely to be hurt by the sting of rejection online. “Cyber bullying,” a rather new phenomenon, involves the exposure of a person (or group of people) to harassment over the Internet. Name-calling, slurs and even posting of unflattering pictures or video can take place on social media sites. This is especially true on sites where parents are unable to access the content about the victim(s) of the bullying.
Kids aren’t the only ones who are hurt by social media, though. Even teachers and other school officials can find themselves the target of negative gossip or bullying on the Internet.
Romantic relationships can also grow more stressful and complicated because of photos of one’s significant other which may cause jealousy or insecurity. If one partner is constantly checking social media updates — even on a date, for instance — this can also cause a rift in the relationship. Seeing the successes of friends or colleagues online can make a person feel inadequate and dissatisfied with his or her own life.
An article from PsychCentral discusses how younger and older people are feeling the effects of social media on their mental health. The writer mentions that “using social networking sites, mainly Facebook, can increase […] stress levels, produce anxiety and […] affect […] sense of self.”
The writer asserts that people naturally seek approval and acceptance from others. When using a site like Facebook or Instagram, you are subject to the opinions of your entire social circle on your thoughts and activities.
Some people feel upset or embarrassed when their friends don’t show their approval or agreement by publicly ‘liking’ a post. Insecure young women who post pictures of themselves online often like to receive compliments on a new hairstyle or look; if they don’t get those words of approval, they are likely to feel worse. The same can happen to a young male who publishes something online that he wants others to find clever or witty, or even a song that he thinks people will like.
Essentially, it seems that using social media regularly can make anxious or insecure people feel more unhappy. Check out the above-mentioned article for more information on the topic of social media and anxiety.