Social media has become one of the most important business and marketing tools and at the same time, new mental health disorders have come to the surface, such as internet/cyber addiction. Many times people don’t clearly understand the ethics and long-term effects of social media on our mental and emotional health and well-being.
Marriages and friendships have been destroyed as a result of an excessive and inappropriate use of social media, and particularly Facebook. People have been using Facebook to vent, get even with somebody, or share a controversial opinion. Or as in a case of husband and wife, some secrets that they tried to keep from each other have caused serious problems in a relationship or marriage and this is something that I have observed in my clinical practice.
According to the article by Bayside Continuing Education and development, “social media has the potential to profoundly impact our relationships, communication, self-esteem, privacy, careers, governments, and beliefs.” I often heard from my clients or business associates how they feel inadequate, or even feel rejected, when their posts are not liked or they do not receive any comments.
I must admit that even happened to me and now I learned to take everything as it comes and with a grain of salt. People like or not liking my posts has nothing to do with you as a person, or as a business owner. In addition, Facebook constantly keeps changing their “rules of the game” and just because somebody has for example 2000 likes it doesn’t mean that this person is liked outside Facebook, or that he or she will generate more referrals. Social media is all about building relationships and in that sense, it is no different than building relationships “in the real world.”
I have been using social media with more focus and dedication since 2011 and have attended numerous trainings, and social media has really helped my business to grow and expand. Yet, I did notice that I have been spending too much time on it when I could be doing something different, such as reading a book which I used to do much more often when I wasn’t using social media.
As Martin Baily, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, has stated,
“Powerful new technologies provide great benefits, but they also change the way we live, and not always in ways that everyone likes…. The declining cost of information processing and communication represents a powerful new technology, with social networking as the most recent service to be provided at modest cost. It can be expected to bring pluses and minuses… “
(Adopted from Bayside Continuing Education)
What is unique to social network sites is that they enable users to make connections with people that you already have some type of connection and then you are able to make connections with their “friends” or “followers.” These social sites can also improve somebody’s self-esteem, or on the other hand, also crush somebody’s already low self-esteem.
The age group most affected is teenagers and young adults as they are more prone to depression, and also more sensitive and more easily injured emotionally.
As per article, there are symptoms that we need to pay attention to which refer to unhealthy social networking behaviors:
- Easily distracted, loss of concentration
- Prioritizing social media relationships over face-to-face relationships with family and friends
- Poor communication skills
- Lack of concern for obligations in the outside world
- Withdrawal symptoms (aggression, fidgety)
- Potentially harmful posting during application/entry process to college
Bottom line is, social media has made our world much more accessible and the ability to communicate with people all over the world; however, we need to take into account that it can be damaging to our real life relationships and mental health issues, especially if one already has low self-esteem and is suffering from anxiety and depression. We need to find ways to nurture real-life connections and spend time outdoors.