Studies have found that excess usage of social media is linked with high levels of depression and anxiety.
Social media and mental health: While social media was already highly active, the dependency of people on such platforms has increased tremendously during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Social media has several benefits, in terms of connecting an individual to his long-lost friends and helping him find more people with similar interests, it can also have negative impacts on the health of individuals. In order to promote and teach people about social media wellness, Bailey Parnell, a business woman and digital marketer, addressed this issue in her TED talk.
Problems from social media
Bailey started her address by explaining how social media can manifest negativity and insecurity among the users, according to a report in IE. Studies have found that excess usage of social media is linked with high levels of depression and anxiety. She listed out the four most common stressors, as she called them, that exist on social media.
- Highlight Reel: She said that individuals often felt insecure about themselves because they were comparing their behind-the-scenes moments to the highlight reels that others posted of themselves on social media.
- Social currency: When an individual’s highlight reel does well on social media, it leads to the second stressor, Bailey said. The social currency is in terms of the system of likes, comments as well as shares.
- FOMO or Fear of Missing Out: The actual anxiety that relates to the fear that one has missed out on a potential event, opportunity or connection is the third stressor, she said.
- Online harassment, of course, was the fourth and the worst stressor on social media, according to Bailey.
Bailey said that social media is neither good nor bad, because it just facilitates communication. People tell stories and communicate, which is something they have always done, and social media is just the newest medium to do that. So, she said, the dark side of social media, is actually the dark side of people.
How to stay safe while using social media?
Bailey encouraged others to practice “safe social”. These are the steps that she suggested:
- She said that recognising a problem was the first step towards solving it. She gave the example of an individual who starts seeing something everywhere once they are made aware of it, and used this example to stress the importance of awareness.
- The next step according to Bailey was monitoring what one consumes on social media. Much like monitoring what goes into one’s mouth while eating, an individual must monitor what is entering their heart and mind.
- The third step, she said, was to create a better online experience.
- Modeling good behaviour was the final step towards practicing safe social.
At the end, she said that if social media is negatively impacting one’s mental health, then an individual must remember that it doesn’t have to. It could tear someone down, but it could also lift them up. She added that an individual could exit the social media platform feeling better or even having a laugh.