The Effects of Social Media Negativity on Your Health

And the 5 Things You Can Do to Change That

We’ve all been there: We see a post by a friend, either real or virtual, with which we totally disagree, and we’re off to the races with a contrarian point of view. With all that’s going on in our world today, there’s a ton of controversy: Covid, politics, BLM… hell, people are even arguing over whether pineapple should be allowed on pizza (it shouldn’t).

Sitting on social media has become as habitual as smoking. It’s not only a bad habit; it’s a dangerous one. A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics warned about the potential for negative effects of social media in young kids and teens, including cyber-bullying and “Facebook depression.”

For adults, the by-product of the negativity on social media is equally as damaging. I’ve seen family members and long-time friends tear each other apart on a Facebook thread; people who don’t even know each other say the most appalling and hateful things that I know they would never say to that person in real life. People bickering back and forth, throwing out insults, name calling, and spewing nothing but anger and hate.

What does this say about us as individuals, or as a society? Sure, there are plenty of positives when it comes to social media: connecting with friends and family, sharing photos and videos with friends and loved ones who are far away; sharing ideas, bringing awareness to certain issues; building and networking with new friends and communities. It has been a game-changer in the nonprofit world as it helps spread the word on the issues we fight every day.

However, there is a very dark underbelly of social media. In addition to ruined relationships because we tend to let down our guard and act like complete assholes, there is an increase in feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety, inadequacy, cyber-bullying and self-absorption.

Facebook’s former vice president for user growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, recently stated: “We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” and advised people to take a “hard break” from social media.

Studies revealed those who spend a significant time on Facebook reported worsening well-being. The authors hypothesized that comparisons and emotions triggered by Facebook were carried into real-world contacts, perhaps damaging the healing power of real-world relationships.

Not only is arguing with someone on social media a complete waste of time; it triggers the release or cortisol aka the stress hormone. The result is an increase in heart rate and energy as part of the fight-or-flight response. Too much can cause fatigue, irritability, head aches, insomnia, depression, weight gain, and increase in blood pressure.

Humans are social creatures. We crave a sense of community and connection. However, when the constant exposure to anger, negativity and violence comes into play, it’s time to wean yourself off social media and find more positive ways to connect. Here are a few suggestions:

To better manage your time on social media, set a timer and once that timer goes off, so must you.

There are many tangible benefits to social media, but only when used for your well-being and the well-being of others. The most important part is to manage how you use social media and the amount of time you spend on it. Gain control over your use of it. Treat it like the connectivity and communication tool it was designed to be and not as your own personal soapbox of negativity and a chance to wreak havoc.

The world needs to heal. What if the 1.2 billion Facebook users only posted about kindness, love, joy, and gratitude? The world would definitely be a better place.

How could you use social media for good today? Post a comment here and help others use social media for good too. :)

Namaste.

Written by

Writer & NLP Certified Coach. I teach people how to realize their greatest potential and use their gifts to make a difference in the world. I also save animals.

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