Social media plays a different role in everybody's lives. With this increasingly digital world it's getting harder and harder to not be apart of social media in some way. This web portal is going to bring you through a journey of how social media plagues the minds of individuals everyday. You as the reader will take the role of someone who starts on social media with social anxiety. It will show you how social media takes this low self esteem and spirals it into addiction and even depression. This is not to scare you though, pay careful attention to the what ifs, how can we as everyday people take something like social media and use it to our benefit rather than letting it break us down?
SOCIAL ANXIETY - BEING AFRAID TO BE YOURSELF
Social anxiety is something that many people face everyday, whether it is a fear of public speaking or meeting new people. What if I told you that social media could actually make your social anxiety worse? Social anxiety with social media is directly linked with self perception. You can see yourself one way in the real world but the minute you log onto social media that self perception changes. You are immediately comparing yourself to everyone else on there and most people aren’t really who they say they are on social media. The way you portray yourself could be the complete opposite of who you actually are because you feel as if you can't express who you really are in fear of judgement. Elizabeth Gallinari writes a very interesting piece on this concept of self perception with social media which I have linked below.
What if we use this as an outlet? Almost like therapy. What if there was a new social media platform just like instagram or facebook but it was called something like BeYou. BeYou would encourage its users to be themselves. Post unedited photos, post rants about the current stressors and issues going on in their lives etc. Having an outlet such as this would allow the user to be 100% comfortable with being authentically themselves because the opposite would be discouraged. What do you think would happen if everyone felt 100% safe to be who they are on social media? How do you think that would effect social anxiety and imposter syndrome rates for the millions of users?
THIS FICTIONALIZED VERSION OF YOURSELF GIVES YOU A DEPENDENCY.
You've now created someone you're not. You want to be this person all the time. The only time you are this person is when you are logged onto social media. This forms a dependency, a constant need to verify that you are this person. And how do you verify this? Likes, comments positive feedback, you are now trapped and glued to your phone at all times constantly striving for this validation you get from other fake people on the internet. Below is a diagram outlining the concept of social media dependency theory.
Talkspace.com actually offers something they call "social media dependency therapy" all you have to do is sign up for a free account and they will match you with a certified counselor.
What if you weren't allowed to see peoples reactions to your post? Some popular social media platforms such as instagram, have the option to "turn off" likes and comments so you can't actually see the number of people that like your post or what thy are saying about it. What if likes and comments didn't exist anymore on any social media platform? The concept that everything you do online is based off the reaction of others would completely go out the window. No more stressing over whose post got more traffic just the concept of posting things that make you happy regardless of what people think.
DOES THIS MAKE YOU AN ADDICT?
When you think of addiction you probably think of things like alcohol and drugs. You tell yourself "I'll never be an addict" but did you know theres such thing as social media addiction?
To quote the addiction center "Addictive social media use will look much like any other substance use disorder and may include mood modification (i.e., engagement in social media leads to a favorable change in emotional states), salience (i.e., behavioral, cognitive, and emotional preoccupation with social media), tolerance (i.e., ever-increasing use of social media over time), withdrawal symptoms (i.e., experiencing unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms when social media use is restricted or stopped), conflict (i.e., interpersonal problems ensue because of social media usage), and relapse (i.e., addicted individuals quickly revert back to their excessive social media usage after an abstinence period)." To read more about social media addiction or to get help for you or a loved one see the link below.
What if there was a limit on how much you used social media? This is a concept that I have researched and thought about in the past that I believe could have a very positive impact on social media addiction. The concept is an app which takes in the data of your average screen time spent each day in different categories of apps. The app then sets time limits in each category of how much screen time you can spend each day in each category. Once you hit your time limit the app then shuts off your access to those apps until the next day and then the limit starts over again. The time limits start easy and then slowly decreases week by week until you hit a certain reasonable goal of screen time allotted each day. Below I have included the concept diagram of how the app would work.
NOW YOU'RE ALL ALONE.
What now? You have become obsessed with this person on social media who you are not and in turn you have pushed away all your friends and the people you love with this addiction with social media.
BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE.
This is not where this all ends, theres still hope. You are not lost. The person you were before is still in there and they have so much potential. Below I have linked a wonderful discussion with Dr. Lisa Coyne which delves into the realities of social media and mental health. It not only talks about the dangers of social media with mental health but it also discuses many solutions and alternatives that you can use to help limit the negative correlation with social media and mental health. I have also linked the article in which I found this discussion and it also offers wonderful insight so I strongly recommend both.
If you're going to spend all your time on social media why not include your friends? What if there was an app or social media designed to allot out a specific meeting time for you and your friends to video chat and play games or go on social media together? Once a week or every other day, (as often as you want) this app would call your group of friends at a certain time like a video conference appointment or something and you will be able to enjoy social media and mobile devices together while being able to catch up and enjoy each others company. This concept would allow you to be on social media but spend it with thee ones you love instead of using it to push them away. That way it could bring you closer together rather than tearing you apart.
CONCLUSION - YOU ARE NOT A LOST CAUSE.
This web portal was not designed to convince you that you will inevitably fall into a pit of depression and self-identity crisis caused by social media. It was designed with quite the opposite intention. This was intended to make the reader aware of the mental dangers social media presents but also aware of the many resources and support provided to help you or a loved one out of these situations. Then comes the what ifs, hopefully when you read this you have not yet fallen victim to this social media addiction and despair and you can pay attention to the what ifs. What if we used social media against itself? What if we used the very root of the problem to help combat these issues? Just food for thought, if you want to make a difference don't look straight into killing the issue but maybe just using it to better itself.