Social Media and Mental Health

By Amanda Gabriel
Senior Writer

Social media plays a role in most of our lives—we use Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook to connect with friends and to share our weekly activities with others; but, these apps may be affecting us on a larger scale. Although the intended functions of social media are generally positive, such as allowing us to overcome long distances, scrolling through others’ lives every day is distancing us from our own mental health.

Pictures that are posted on social media usually represent the best moments of a person’s life. When we are constantly scrolling through pictures of vacations, products we wish we had, or “beach bodies,” just to name a few examples, we begin to feel like we are missing out because our lives do not match other’s. We forget that the lives we see online are different from reality—real life is full of unfiltered struggles. By comparing our lives to the perfect parts of others, we begin to doubt and question ourselves. “Should I be traveling more? Why isn’t my life as exciting as theirs?” Questions like these can lead to depression and unhealthy thoughts about our lives or self-esteem. Additionally, if we believe that our lives are not as marvelous as what we see online, we may be more inclined to spend our free time online instead of enjoying what is around us.

I am not arguing that all social media is bad, or that everyone can relate to wishing they had a better life because of what they see online. As I mentioned previously, there are many positive aspects to social media, but I believe that the negative aspects should also be explored, especially since the majority of people with access to technology spend a majority of their time using it. It is important that, if these doubts begin to manifest within our minds, we should unplug and take the time to appreciate what we do have and remember that life is more than a Snapchat story. Deleting apps for a few days or weeks can take unnecessary stress off ourselves and allow us to look at the world through our own eyes, not through filters. When we are able to stop comparing our actions to those of others, we feel less pressured to be someone or to be somewhere that we do not otherwise feel the need to be.

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