Social media gets a bad rep and its not for everyone. My father has no social media account anywhere, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…not one and he is perfectly happy. There is however increasing amounts of press which link social media to depression, anxiety, mental health problems and more.
I’m not disputing any of these studies and it has to be pointed out that they state a social media addiction causes depression, but what about focusing on the positive effect social media is having on us? We don’t see much press about that in comparison to the negatives, do we? So lets have a look at what good social media is doing in society and how we may go forward from here.
1) The World Is Open To Us
Communication, we are living in a time now where much of the world is open to us and with one tweet or one Instagram post we can connect with people on the other side of the globe. It is free and it is live, it takes place right in front of our eyes and we can forge new friendships and networks online with people who we would never have met otherwise.
2) We Can Share Our Experiences
The is something my Dad has struggled to understand lately when he sees people snapping a photo of their meal in a restaurant for Instagram. We can share our life experiences through photo, video or text. We can share those exciting moments as well as the highs and lows of life. We can share holiday experiences, family experiences, travelling experiences…anything we want to share we can with a few buttons.
3) We Can Reach Out To Businesses
Reaching a business has never been easier, I can’t tell you the amount of problems I have resolved over the years through social media platforms instead of having to call a business and wait in an automated queue for a representative. We can DM them, we can reach out publicly to them and they can answer our queries or direct us efficiently to the right place to find answers. Businesses can use information online to tailor products which appeal to us online.
4) We Can Discuss The Important Issues In Our World
We can talk about the important issues in our world with people we would never have been able to talk to before. Just look at the election last year in America, young people are now more involved than ever before in their countries politics and social media has contributed in a big way because they can have a voice and actually be heard.
I pointed out above that we can share the highs and lows of our life on social media, some people may think – why would we want to share the lows? Simple, that is life. By sharing the good and bad experiences we empathise with each other and reach out emotionally through a message that we may not have done otherwise. Living proof of that, following the death of my brother a few years ago, my mother has posted a few messages to Facebook on his birthday and anniversary and she has found it to be extremely helpful.
Is social media more negative than positive?
I really believe that it depends on the network these days. We all know about the bad rep Twitter has for example when it comes to abuse and harassment. You don’t even have to say something controversial there anymore and you can get jumped on and attacked viciously. It is a tread with care situation. Facebook in my experience is more close knit friends and family so I have never had problems there. Instagram has a stronger hold on harassment than Twitter, I have been working hard on my Instagram strategy over the past number of weeks and my engagement has gone up as a result but there has not been a single abusive message or comment received yet.
There are negatives to social media like there is with many things in life – positives and negatives. People will claim that social media results in depression, that it allows terrorists to communicate effectively and allows people to spread vile hate towards others. I am not denying any of that, but I believe that despite all the bad press social media gets, it is more positive than negative overall because there are more positive than negative people in the world.
How do we go forward now?
I point this out time and time over again, technology evolves. Social media is a form of technological communication so it too will evolve over time. We go forwards, not backwards. You may not like social media but it is here to stay and grow and at some point evolve into the next big thing whatever that may be.
It is hard to say what the answer is ultimately, all I know for certain is social media is going nowhere. What do you think is going to happen? You think we are all going to say – “No this is having a bad effect on mental health and leads to depression…” and as a result delete all our social media apps and go back to the way it was before?
Of course not, the thing about technology is that it has no romanticism for anything. Technology doesn’t do it the way you hope it to be or the way you want it to be, it just does it the way its going to be.
Can social media really lead to depression?
Of course it can, not all of us have the same experiences on social media. While I have a good experience with it all round, some people will be bullied, abused and harassed across multiple social platforms. Of course that can lead to depression and mental health issues.
Our experiences with social media are not the same, we all see it and experience it a different way. If you feel that social media is getting you depressed and getting you down then that is absolutely something you need to either address or seek help for.
I can only say what I would do, but if I was in a situation where I felt social media was depressing me I would assess where the problems appear to be happening, for example Twitter (sorry Twitter) and cut that platform out of my life…maybe cut them all out and say its is just not for me and if I felt it was necessary I would seek help.
That is just what I would do, we all experience things different, we all cope in a different way. None of us are the same and so we don’t react in the same way.