I occasionally take breaks from social media and don’t even get on the internet at all. Sometimes I am not online due to physical illness, or I’m busy with other things, but at other times, it’s a deliberate choice.
I usually feel better about myself or life when I take breaks from the internet.
I find there is way too much vitriol online, especially on Twitter, especially with politics. Someone on the right or left is always fired up and outraged over some latest stupid thing Congress has done or is planning to do, or what Trump has said or done.
Just in the past 3 or 4 days alone, about two or three different Trump-related stories broke, while I was off line. I just knew when I saw some of that coverage on television that Trump haters would immediately jump on those stories to criticize him on social media, and the Trump supporters would fire back.
I was correct, based upon scrolling up and down my main feed and that of people I am friends with online. And I missed the majority of that squabbling as it was happening, thankfully.
I think it’s a little easier to be optimistic when you’re not scrolling past non-stop hostility on social media day in and day out.
Six Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health by A. G. Walton
…. The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned about the potential for negative effects of social media in young kids and teens, including cyber-bullying and “Facebook depression.”
But the same risks may be true for adults, across generations. Here’s a quick run-down of the studies that have shown that social media isn’t very good for mental well-being, and in some ways, it can be pretty damaging.
…. A review study from Nottingham Trent University looked back over earlier research on the psychological characteristics, personality and social media use.
The authors conclude that “it may be plausible to speak specifically of ‘Facebook Addiction Disorder’…because addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behavior, appear to be present in some people who use [social networks] excessively.” …
It triggers more sadness, less well-being
The more we use social media, the less happy we seem to be. One study a few years ago found that Facebook use was linked to both less moment-to-moment happiness and less life satisfaction—the more people used Facebook in a day, the more these two variables dropped off.
The authors suggest this may have to do with the fact that Facebook conjures up a perception of social isolation, in a way that other solitary activities don’t. “On the surface,” the authors write, “Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling such needs by allowing people to instantly connect.
Rather than enhancing well-being, as frequent interactions with supportive ‘offline’ social networks powerfully do, the current findings demonstrate that interacting with Facebook may predict the opposite result for young adults—it may undermine it.”
…Not surprisingly, it turned out that the more time people spent on these [social media] sites, the more socially isolated they perceived themselves to be. And perceived social isolation is one of the worst things for us, mentally and physically.
Comparing our lives with others is mentally unhealthy
Part of the reason Facebook makes people feel socially isolated (even though they may not actually be) is the comparison factor.
We fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through our feeds, and make judgements about how we measure up.
One study looked at how we make comparisons to others posts, in “upward” or “downward” directions—that is, feeling that we’re either better or worse off than our friends.
It turned out that both types of comparisons made people feel worse, which is surprising, since in real life, only upward comparisons (feeling another person has it better than you) makes people feel bad. But in the social network world, it seems that any kind of comparison is linked to depressive symptoms.
We get caught in the delusion of thinking it will help
Part of the unhealthy cycle is that we keep coming back to social media, even though it doesn’t make us feel very good. [view study] …
More friends on social doesn’t mean you’re more social
A couple of years ago, a study found that more friends on social media doesn’t necessarily mean you have a better social life—there seems to be a cap on the number of friends a person’s brain can handle, and it takes actual social interaction (not virtual) to keep up these friendships.
So feeling like you’re being social by being on Facebook doesn’t work. Since loneliness is linked to myriad health and mental health problems (including early death), getting real social support is important.
Virtual friend time doesn’t have the therapeutic effect as time with real friends.
Not only can you probably benefit more, and your depression may go down, if you go off line for a while and meet with people face to face, but, jogging or journaling (keeping a diary) may also help (see links below for more).