There has been an ongoing debate for years if social media is bad for your mental health. Everyone has a different experience using social media. Some people are getting rich from social media by participating in multi-level marketing (#bossbabe). If you are an aspiring girl influencer like me you probably received a message in your direct messages asking to join their team to promote a product from the comfort of your home.
Some people are developing mental health issues such as eating disorders. Women are dissatisfied with their bodies because they desire to look like the Instagram models, but little do they know that majority of these photos are photoshopped or the woman in the photo got plastic surgery. There is really no straight answer to if social media is destroying your mental health, but here is my perspective on the topic.
Our brains crave stimulants throughout the day — especially in people who struggle with ADHD and depression. The stimulants increase dopamine in the brain. We need that little dose of stimulation in the morning to wake up the brain. It is addicting because the brain loves it.
According to an article by Harvard University researcher Trevor Haynes,
"when you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical messenger called dopamine along a reward pathway, which makes you feel good.”
We can find ourselves in bed for hours just scrolling through social media. You would think that wasting time in bed mindlessly scrolling is bad for your mental health right? I would say in some cases, yes.
Some people are born with an addictive personality. I know this because I have family members who have that trait. These are the alcoholics of my family. There is a lot of controversy surrounding addiction as if it should be considered a mental illness.
Some may say that the drugs alter the brain circuits which characterizes under mental illness and some may say that no one was forced to pick up a needle and that drug addiction was considered a choice. In my opinion, addiction should be considered a mental illness and one of the most dangerous if you are asking me. If someone is in the severe stages of alcohol addiction, they can die if they stop drinking alcohol — this is the same for other drugs such as heroin.
My point is — people who have an addictive personality should be more cautious when it comes to social media because it can affect other parts of their lives, such as having difficulty with human communication in real life.
It is the year 2020 and we have so many social media apps that can be overwhelming. We have Instagram for sharing photos, YouTube for video sharing, Facebook to stay connected, Twitter to share thoughts and news, and Tik Tok for short videos.
When social media came out — its purpose was to stay connected with friends and family online, but now it became this opportunity for people to get rich and famous. It is everyone’s dream to be rich and famous. As humans, we want to feel appreciated and loved. We also all feel envious at times. Social media makes it easier than ever to want to feel loved and to feel envious.
Social media these days is oversaturated with Instagram models and travel photos. We used to envy these people like the Kardashians by reading magazines and watching television, and now, social media makes it easier to sit back and watch people “live their best life”. Some people may perceive that Instagram models’ lives are better than theirs which can feed into depression.
In my opinion, I do believe in free will and choice. I am not going to pretend that I haven’t felt insecure looking at these influencers making a living off taking photos and traveling the world, but I also don’t let those feelings consume my life. Instead, I use the content as motivation because yes, I would love to get paid to travel and create meaningful work. Who wouldn’t? I sit back and learn from these influencers instead of wondering why my life can’t be like theirs.
We all know the people who benefit the most from social media are “influencers”. I mean — they are living their best life, right? NO. There are pros and cons of influencers leveraging social media to make a living.
You can be your own boss.
You have the freedom to be unique.
You can receive free products.
You have the opportunity to be paid thousands to promote a product.
You may be a victim of cyberbullying.
You may have a privacy challenge.
There is a high risk of a comparison between the number of followers each influencer has.
You may have feelings of isolation because you will be working from home.
On a side note — being an influencer is not an easy job to have. A lot of people have this misconception that anyone can be an influencer and it’s the easiest thing. Let me tell you — it is the hardest thing to achieve. You would have to be hustling and may even have to sacrifice your mental wellbeing. There is a tradition on YouTube called VLOGMAS.
VLOGMAS is a challenge for YouTubers to post a video every single day up until Christmas. That is 25 videos that I posted during that time frame. This is an example of me sacrificing my sleep and mental wellbeing to complete the VLOGMAS challenge. I gained more of a following, but I still contemplate if it was worth it. That being said, I will not be participating in VLOGMAS again unless I make Youtube a full-time job.
I consider myself a small YouTuber as well as an influencer. I will admit that it is both good and bad for my mental health. I stress myself a lot creating content to only get a couple of views which makes me depressed. I think to myself — what am I doing wrong? These are all thoughts that run through my mind and I have to remind myself of why I chose this route in my life. I chose it because through all the pain, it will be worth it. Now — Is this a toxic thought? Who knows.
Now let’s talk about the most addicting and toxic social media app out there and that is Tik Tok. Rumor has it that Tik Tok may be banned from the U.S due to safety reasons. Tik Tok has the biggest opportunity to be toxic because of its addictive tendency. Unlike other social media apps, Tik Tok never runs out of content to watch. This app is filled with high schoolers in a bikini doing trendy dances.
This not only makes people feel bad about themselves because they don’t look a certain way, but it feeds the addictive personality as I spoke about earlier. Remember when I said that everyone wants to be rich and famous? Tik Tok’s algorithm makes it super easy to go viral. Tik Tok feeds into both of these toxic behaviors. I know this and yet I go on Tik Tok myself. I use my free will and choice to use it as a tool to learn fun dances and not to compare myself to high schoolers.
So — is social media toxic to your mental health? If you were to ask me, I would say that it has the opportunity to hurt your mental health, but it depends on how you use it. You can allow it to make you feel horrible or you can leverage the app to create a beautiful and happy life off-screen.
Social media has become a part of our daily routine. We don't ask questions we just log on, scroll, and produce content. You know what else has become a daily routine? 9-5 jobs. Have you ever wondered if your 9-5 job is hurting your mental health? Check out our article Your 9–5 Job Is Hurting Your Mental Health And You Don’t Even Know It to find out more.
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