There are many ways you can suffer from social media addiction. In today’s world, it is almost impossible to not be a part of social media in some way. There are many social media platforms to chose from. Most people have at least 2 to 3 social media accounts on different platforms.
The use of social media has become so ingrained in our daily routine. We don’t often notice the harm it can cause. Just like any addiction, social media can become a habit that is hard to let go. Today, not having a social media account makes you seem anti-social. However, becoming anti-social is actually one of the negative effects of being addicted to social media.
With the rise of more affordable mobile devices, the use of social media is also on the rise. This also means that more people are experiencing the negative effects of being addicted to the use of social media.
1. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) + Unhealthy Sleep Patterns
People who can’t stop checking their social media accounts so frequently do so because of a fear of missing out. This is one of the reasons why people develop social media addiction. Be it on the latest trends in fashion, entertainment or news; they don’t want to miss out on the latest happenings. Nobody wants to be criticized for being old fashioned or late to the news by their “friends” on social media. As a result, they spend their time late into the night, following recommended links and discussing these with their group.
This is especially true if you join a social media group which focuses on a particular topic. You need to be very active in the group conversations in order to be noticed. This is why you need to keep yourself updated on the topic/s so your comment gets more attention. In this cycle of events, you feel that you are getting more friends even as you lose more sleep.
This type of environment makes you feel like you belong to a group. In turn, this makes you feel the need to contribute to the group and make your presence felt. The problem is that this group is a virtual group; so you don’t really know the actual members. Spending too much time in this online group may lead to you developing anti-social tendencies in your personal relationships.
2. Developing Anti-Social Tendencies
You may have more than 500 friends or followers on your social media profile. Question is, do you really know each of them personally? You may be a part of a popular social media group, but do the members know each other at all?
Social media groups and group chats are useful for learning new things. They also allow you to get to know new people with similar interests as you. Spending time with your online friends is enjoyable but it also deprives you of quality time with your friends in the physical world.
Being immersed in just one group for too long will also encourage “group think”. This mindset makes you less open to exploring new ideas and concepts. You might reject an excellent suggestion about a particular topic just because it isn’t aligned with your group’s opinion. When you are limiting yourself to group think, you end up with more arguments instead of meaningful and productive discussions.
If you always spend time online and/or always argue with your friends and loved ones offline; eventually, you will develop anti-social behavior which could lead to more serious relationship issues and mental health issues later on.
3. Getting a Negative Self-Image
Social media posts are generally about good things or bad things in a particular person’s life experience. If you are always stalking your favorite social media influencer because you want to imitate their “perfect” life; then you are in for trouble. No one can have the perfect body unless they’ve been digitally enhanced. Life is only perfect in still pictures. People in social media tend to highlight only the good stuff. This is especially so in ads or thru celebrity endorsements.
Comparing yourself to the perfect lifestyle of celebrities is a negative habit. Doing it regularly will only make you develop a negative self-image. Instead of encouraging you to accept and love yourself; it may even give you a more negative view of the world in general.
As you stalk your favorite social media personality’s profile; you pine away at the things you don’t have in your life yet. With this habit, you are also negatively impacting your physical and mental health. Lingering on your social media feed will lower your self-esteem even more. There is a higher chance of this happening if you don’t have a healthy measure of self-confidence to begin with.
4. Setting Unrealistic Expectations
We all know the saying: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Based on your online friends, what type of person will you become or have you become that person already?
Being constantly on social media may give you unrealistic expectations of the real world. Relationships on social media are very different from relationships in real life. How people behave on social media is not how real people behave in the physical world. Relationship stress in the real world are very different from online ones. Constantly comparing your own situation to that of your social media idols and friends will result in many disappointing experiences.
It is even more harmful if you have experienced cyber-bullying in your social media group/s. This is similar to experiencing peer pressure in real life. It is just as harmful online because your attackers may be more than you can handle. Since you don’t know each other personally, any way you defend yourself will be useless. But since they are speaking as a group, then their opinions will come off as valid and believable. You may end up following their advise even if you’re not really sure about it. This is another negative effect of “group think”.
5. Feeling Depression and Anxiety
Aside from news channels, how many people have you seen online venting their frustrations and personal issues on their profiles? If you’ve started doing the same, then you might also be exhibiting the symptoms of depression.
Some people use social media to vent out their frustrations. This is actually alright if you are sharing such matters to just a select group of intimate friends and/or relatives. But if you are venting publicly, then you may invite unwanted attention and unsolicited advise as well as criticism.
If you are ranting on your social media group, you may receive both helpful comments as well as criticism. However, if you can’t manage the comments wisely, then you will only end up getting stressed and anxious. You may even end up depressed from one negative remark which might trigger a host of other negative emotions.
Depression is not something to make light off. Most people are not even aware that they are depressed. Do you find yourself constantly looking for validation online, instead of asking help from your actual friends and family? You may be more anxious or depressed than you think.
Next time you pick your phone or check your social media profile, try to set a time limit. This way, you don’t miss out on the more important things you need to pay attention to.
Do you know people who have experienced any of these ways that you can suffer from social media addiction? Have you experienced any of these yourself? The first step to solving the problem is awareness. Just like money, you should spend more on experiences that you will remember later on, with the people you love, instead of meaningless chatter online. Manage your time online wisely so you don’t miss out on the wonderful experiences real life has to offer.