By TAYLOR DUFFIELD
Social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook expose users to a world of exaggerations, rumors, desires, and frustrations; all while having to decipher fact from fiction. We are constantly being fed information through social networking. We’re told what products to spend our money on, what weight-loss tricks supposedly work, what music to download, and sometimes were told much more personal information than desired.
Being “logged in,” puts the users at a higher risk for stress or even depression that results in negative physical and psychological health effects. According to a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh Business School, “the more social circles a person is linked to online the more likely social media will be a source of stress.”
Social networks do provide benefits to its users. Being able to keep up with updates on the lives of distant friends and family members is a common reason for joining these sites. When a friend posts jovial announcements, responding and sending your congratulations or support could not be any easier. Undoubtedly, keeping in touch with acquaintances is now more effortless than ever.
Unfortunately, just as news feeds are littered with joyful occasions, they are also cluttered with sorrowful events. Increased access to the lives of others also enhances awareness of the stress they experience. Death, illness, and altercations are known to have a direct influence on stress according to “Changing Minds for Stress Management Skills.” At any given time, users can scroll through recent posts and easily find a handful of rants, words of hatred, and stories of the recently deceased. This constant stream of unfiltered information is an emotional burden for many readers.
As if sharing so much of your personal thoughts and moments with everyone on your friends list doesn’t amplify the absence of privacy, allowing your significant other to remain updated with your profile will likely cause more drama than its worth.
Even in relationships, a certain amount of privacy is healthy and should be expected of each other. These social sites potentially allow your significant other to scrutinize every post you make, every picture you post, and every person you contact. If your partner is guilty of snooping through your page and obsessing over every detail, stress and anxiety will quickly ensue.
Lifestyle envy can also ignite some strain. It is difficult to decipher whether sometimes people are exaggerating about how great their lives seem to be. Readers may feel pressure to “keep up with the Joneses.” If consumers feel as though their lives do not compare to what they read and see on these sites, they may be subjected to feelings of depression. The burden of striving to keep up with peers will negatively impact mental health.
If you find it difficult to step away from your on-line accounts for periods of time, even to the point that it interferes with your life and your relationships, you are not alone. According to “Help Guide for Mental Health,” cyber-relationship addiction is an “addiction to social networking, chat rooms, texting, and messaging” and is one of the most common Internet addictions. “Losing yourself online can temporarily make feelings such as loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air,” is listed as the cause of Internet addictions.
Engaging in social networking is less likely to negatively impact your life if used in moderation. However, if you do find that your online accounts are impacting your life on a deeper level when you’re away from the screen, it may be time to log out and find a new balance. Try developing a routine exercise schedule as a healthy way to cope with stress. Meditation is also a common practice used to reduce anxiety and stress.
Maintaining awareness of your personal use of social media and networking is pertinent so that you can identify the signs before it becomes problematic. Limiting your use of these sites would beneficial. Exchange phone numbers with those distant friends and family that you truly do intend to keep in contact with, and they will no longer be an excuse for staying “logged in.”
Finding an outlet to let off some steam and step away from the screen will help improve all areas of your life over all. So long as a balance is implemented, stress and depression caused by Facebook or Twitter should not be prevalent in your life.