Social media is fun. It keeps you connected. And informed. It helps you find cool new businesses like Hey Luna to love. At its surface, it’s a fun, harmless pastime.
But. Is it affecting your mental health?
The underbelly of social media is kinda gross. I’ve written about it before but today I wanted to provide you with some check-in prompts. If you’re nodding your head while reading this, it might just be time to log off for a little while.
Time Lost to Mindless Scrolling
Did you mean to read that book or sew that cushion last night only to find you’d wasted the whole evening scrolling on your phone? Red flag friend. If social media is taking you away from the things or people you love, you’ve got yourself a problem.
The first notable social media feature that impacts mental health is its addictive quality. Unless you’re mindful of screen-time, hours can go by. Even if it’s only in your free time (most often the time leading up to bed), it’s not adding value to your life. And depending on the content, you could find yourself with:
- Increasing anxiety
- Low moods
Mental health is impacted by rituals, routines, and habits. And these habits can go toward proactively maintaining a positive mindset or diminishing it. Social media has a tendency to do the latter.
If this is you, that’s another red flag for your talley and it might be a good idea to monitor your screen time.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
FOMO can make even the most introverted homebody feel as though they are living life completely wrong. Being a socialite, traveling entrepreneur, or busy body is all the rage on social media (*gross*) and it can feel as if everyone is always out and about doing something exciting.
Meanwhile, you’re in your trackies watching SUV re-runs while eating Oreos.
If you’re genuinely happy at home and those Insta-fab posts don’t make you feel shitty, green flag. BUT, if those posts are making you question your life choices…that’s another red flag amigo.
Idealism & Perfectionism Are Taking Over
Since the platform is free, you are the product. Neuromarketing is the way app developers get INTO your brain to keep you scrolling. They take note of what you like, what you don’t and serve content designed to get your brain hooked and you buying.
How does it work?
So, say you liked a post about eco-friendly products. You might be served an ad featuring a glam woman holding the newest sustainable drink bottle. It won’t mean much at the time but the next day you’ll see an article about top 20 entrepreneurs and that water bottle company is featured. The following day, you’ll see a story from an influencer about her meal prep, diet and water consumption using that exact water bottle.
The result? Firstly your current water bottle seems dodgy. Secondly you feel like your professional pursuits are lacklustre. Thirdly you might feel inadequate because YOU don’t meal prep and drink 5 litres of water per day. You go and buy the water bottle because it’s not the bottle you think you need, it’s what it REPRESENTS.
See? It’s all a game designed to check-mate you. If this is feeling all too familiar…red flag.
Mental Illness on Social Media
Mental illness isn’t brought up enough on social media. Since it’s a place where happiness and health rate higher in popularity, it’s filled with toxic positivity. The uncomfortable, painful human experiences, including mental illness, aren’t as common to see.
What’s worse is when mental illness is brought up in ways that isolate a diagnosis but don’t explore it fully. For instance, ADHD and anxiety are thrown around in regular conversation and captions without displaying the full scope of the illness. As a result? It’s generalised and trivialised.
So if you are someone with a mental illness and only the surface is scratched on your feed, you might feel even MORE alone. Remember, social media isn’t a diagnostic tool or even an accurate source of health information. Always seek medical care from a health practitioner.
Social Media Stress Test
Not sure how the creators you follow or the content you consume on social media is impacting your mental health and wellbeing? Use the following series of questions to vet the social media you consume.
- How do I feel when I open social media vs. when I close the app? Better, worse, or neutral?
- Does the social media content I consume make me view others or myself differently? In what way?
- Am I prone to feeling shame and embarrassment of inspiration and gratitude when scrolling through social media?
- In what way does social media truly add to my life? In what way is it diminishing my wellbeing?
- You’ll know after answering these questions where you’re at with it. But please, take care and prioritise your mental health.