With technology firmly embedded into our lives, social media and online shopping have become an essential part of almost everyone’s daily routine. Millennials and Generation Z teens are online more and are more prone to being “addicted” to the internet. These generations have grown up turning towards the internet to answer all of their questions. Understanding how social media makes us feel and relaying that information to others is the goal of this article.
There are two social media apps that are used the most and reach thousands of people daily. They have the ability to make someone feel a certain way. These two apps are: Instagram and Twitter.
Using social media every day and using it for more than eight hours a day is unhealthy. It’s unhealthy to look at a screen for that long, because it can damage your eyes. It is even unhealthier for your mental health than it is for your physical health. Researchers and scientists haven’t been able to completely agree and diagnose whether or not an internet addiction is real. However, they have been able to understand that individuals go through a withdrawal period.
After conducting research Swansea University found that people experience the psychological symptoms of withdrawal when they stop using the internet. A recent study, Differential Physiological changes Following Internet Exposure in Higher and Lower Problematic Internet User, by Phil Reed says that individuals who are over-dependent on their digital devices report feelings of anxiety when they are unable to use them. This is now seen as psychological effects that are accompanied by actual physiological changes. A study, Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults, from 2013 by Ethan Kross was about how Facebook found that the user was losing moment-to-moment happiness and less life satisfaction.
Social isolation is a term that pops up in a lot of studies and conversations about social media and mental health. Loneliness and social isolation are the silent killers, they wreak havoc on an individual’s physical, mental and cognitive health. Social media is a big reason why some individuals feel loneliness and social isolation.
We compare ourselves to each other every day, whether that is in person or online. Comparing ourselves to others online makes us feel more socially isolated, because we fall into the trap or scrolling through our feeds and scrolling through other people’s feeds measuring up and judging. This can then lead to jealousy, feeling jealous can cause individuals to post jealousy-inducing posts of their own, which creates a vicious cycle of one-upping other people.
Part of the unhealthy cycle is that we think it’ll help. We think that if we keep going back to social media that it will eventually help us, and we will get better. It’s almost like a drug, we think getting a fix will help, but it actually makes us feel worse. One study, Facebook’s Emotional Consequences: Why Facebook Causes a Decrease in Mood and Why People Still Us it, showed that how people feel after they used social media and how they thought they would feel after using it is different. It showed that people generally felt worse after using it, but they thought that they would feel better.
The University of Pittsburgh did a study about social media and negative body image feedback. It showed that individuals who spent more time on social media had 2.2 times the risk of reporting eating and body image concerns, compared to their peers who spent less time on social media. Another study showed that the more time young adults spent on social media the more likely they have problems sleeping and reported symptoms of depression.
Cyberbullying is probably the biggest mental health and emotional side effect of social media. Cyberbullying is one of the biggest reasons why scientists have researched social media usage with young adults. Teen girls, specifically, are at high risk of cyberbullying, however that does not mean that teen boys are not at risk. It is associated with depression, anxiety, and an elevated risk of suicidal thoughts.
A study, Do Online Social Media Cut Through The Constraints that Limit the Size of Offline Social Networks?, found that more friends on social media does not mean that you are more social. There are benefits to talking and connecting with friends online, but they cannot replace the human interaction between offline friends.
Humans are social creatures. We thrive on the companionship and comfort of others. Social connections strengthen our overall wellbeing and happiness. It eases our stress, anxiety, and depression, boost self-worth, provides comfort and joy. Social media relationships can never be a replacement for real-world relationships. Face to face contact triggers the hormones that alleviate stress and make you feel happier and healthier.
Online friends and offline friends both have their benefits and drawbacks. Online friends are great because you have increased contact. You could be talking to them constantly via text messages, Instagram DMs or Facebook Messenger. There’s a constant conversation happening even if it’s just emojis going back and forth. It’s been argued that online friends know more about each other, because we are more likely to be open and honest when we can’t see the person you are talking to.
A drawback of online friends is that they can leave you at any time. They can decide to not respond or ghost you when things get tough or messy. It’s easy for them to leave because there is no physical responsibility to be there for you. Your friends can ultimately just stop answering you. Then you are left wondering why they left, or if you did something wrong, convincing yourself that you are the reason they left.
Men and women use social media for different reasons. Females usually use social media to make connections and stay in touch with friends and family. While males usually use social media to gather information. Men try to form new relationships through social media, while females try to sustain existing relationships. Men prefer to post self-promotional posts. They post their work, for example, writings, music or videos. Two-thirds of men post their work online compared to only half of the women.
Women have been more active on social media than men for at least the past five years. It is important to note that women are leading the shift from desktop or laptops to mobile devices where social media is concerned. It is also because of women that online shopping is now moving to mobile phones, and smaller screens.
Instagram is a purely visual platform of pictures and videos. It launched in 2010 and has been updated a variety of times since then. Everyone that is on Instagram creates an account and has a news feed. The people that you follow come up on your news feed and you can like or share their pictures. It’s a pretty simple mobile emphasized app. Your profile can be public or private.
When your profile is public everyone can follow you or like your pictures, but when it’s private individuals have to request to follow you. Liking a post is easy, you just double tap the picture and you can click the arrow at the bottom of the picture to share it with someone. There is also a search and explore tab, you can search friends or family, and you can also explore different hashtags to find people to follow.
When it launched you could only post pictures through the app and add filters without doing any extra editing. However, now you can go to the middle posting tab on Instagram and select the camera/video icon to capture your moment within the app. But you can also scroll down and pick a photo or video that you have already taken. Once you’ve picked out the picture or video you can create a caption and then upload it. Easy.
Is it easy though? It’s easy to upload a picture or video, but then once it’s uploaded of course you can delete it if you would like, but it’s already out there. People have already seen it and people have commented or shared it with other people. Once you press the upload button, you have no idea where your picture or video is going to end up.
Even if you don’t want to admit it as soon as you post something you want to have as many likes as possible. You might even try to add hashtags to allow your post to be found on explore pages. You post on your other social media accounts to go and like your new post. It makes you crave attention and you want as many people to see it as possible.
But you know that a lot of the people that like your picture or video are just scrolling through Instagram and double tapping on every picture. You know that half the people that liked the picture just liked it because it showed up on their news feed. While the other half is liking it, because they are your friends.
A study shows that when individuals are using Instagram, they don’t feel good about themselves. They go on it because they want to see what other people are posting, but when they see friends posting about other friends or groups of people going on adventures, they get FOMO. Which is an abbreviation for the Fear Of Missing Out, which has become such a large part of our society that it actually causes anxiety to these individuals. Users have said that they feel sad, jealous, frustrated and more while inside the app.
Because of these studies Instagram has decided to remove the number of likes that is shown beneath each post. They decided to do this, because now other people and the individuals can’t compare their likes to others. They will stop obsessing over how many likes or comments they receive. The feeling of jealousy will decrease.
Twitter and Instagram are both incredibly resourceful and useful social media platforms; however, they are used in such different ways. Instagram is purely visual while Twitter is purely textual.
Twitter is a SMS-based communications platform, where people have a certain amount of characters to communicate and post status updates. It launched in 2006 and has been updated and has grown since then. It initially started off with a 140-character limit and since then has grown to 240.
Twitter can be used for a variety of different jobs. Reporters, marketers and influencers are some of the top jobs that use Twitter. They use Twitter to reach mass amounts of people, because similarly to Instagram as soon as you post something you have no idea where it will go. It can be retweeted and shared with thousands of individuals in a matter of seconds.
Using hashtags and mentions get more people to read your tweet. Individuals that use Twitter are usually looking for information or they want to know what other people are doing or thinking about. People post on Twitter, because they want to feel relevant and up to date. They want the retweets, so they know that they are still on the same trend of thinking as everyone else. People tend to retweet and share relatable posts or posts that they find funny.
Twitter has 145 million monetizable daily active users. 145 million users a day. That’s a lot of people. But, all of them do not post or tweet every day. Only about 30 percent of all users tweet daily. All of these tweets that are posted are then shared and liked and often times go viral. How is it that a 240-character post can become so popular that it goes worldwide?
Users find that gratification of being reposted or shared, very similar to Instagram. Studies have shown that Twitter users have created their news feeds so that they only get the information that they want. Some people only want news updates, but others don’t want that, and they only want memes. Twitter users have more of an option to create a news feed that makes them feel a certain way. They feel happy getting the content they want, but they would get upset if something pops up that they didn’t want.
Overall, social media has become such a large part of society that there is at least one app that every individual uses every day. People use social media for different reasons, but they feel the same emotions as everyone else on the apps. Everyone feels jealous or unhappy when they are on Instagram, everyone laughs or gets excited about information that they receive on Twitter.
These findings and understanding how social media effects our mental health is an important way to understand people. These studies show that we are not alone in how we feel about specific social media apps. We often feel isolated or alone and these studies show that you are in fact not alone in how you are feeling.
It is important to note that even though these studies are recent, more studies are taking place currently. Our society is ever changing, and we need to stay up to date with the role that social media plays in our lives.