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Social Media and Our Emotional State

Social Media and Our Emotional State

Social media has become a huge part of our everyday life. We have consumed ourselves with this obsession of posting, sharing, filtering, selfieing, liking, commenting, and worrying. But what do we actually worry about? Many people would say that their social media pages do not affect how they see themselves or how happy we are, but in reality it does. We perfectly filter our pictures so they look more attractive to someone else. We keep our ‘following’ count lower than our ‘followers’. It is all about an image. We can have hundreds of people following us or friends, but in real life we have three. Why do we feel we need this satisfaction from strangers or people we barely know liking what our lunch looked like that day?

The answer is simple. It boost our self esteem. If you were to talk around on a regular day and had 100+ people tell you they liked your outfit or compliment you, things would get a little redundant and for some of us, uncomfortable. Social media gives us a platform to express our everyday lives, conveniently, discreetly, and on our own terms without actually having to talk to someone.  

The internet and social media affect every aspect of our lives. They affect our schooling, the way we buy things, how we work, how we communicate. Some people may say that this is a negative thing, but the majority of people use the internet for these purposes and think that it is a positive thing. In a post by the Huffpost United Kingdom, Purrier says that the internet has made us more intelligent and productive. It has made us face fears, and adapt in a positive manner. The majority of people see these positive outcomes, we just need to communicate and how this positivity to others.

Charles Steinfield, Nicole B. Ellison, and Cliff Lampe wrote an article where we see many different statistics and studies that had been done about the emotional toll that social media and the internet take on us and others. Steinfield, Ellison and Lampe discusses a specific example about an experiment done by Shaw and Gant. They says that the experiment “found decreases in perceived loneliness and depression as well as increase in perceived social support and self esteem following engagement in online cat sessions.” (Steinfield 436)

Think about your everyday routine. What is the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning? I know for me, I grab my phone and spend about 5 minutes checking Facebook and Instagram before I have to face the real world. I know I am not the only one either. We have added this semi-new concept of social media to our everyday routine. We check it to pass the time or to avoid talking to people in the real world. But is this necessarily a harmful habit?

For some reason, we feel as though technology and social media can ease our lives. We feel comfortable using these tools in our everyday lives. If you took my phone away from me for about a day, I would probably feel bored out of my mind if it was just a regular day in my house. If I am doing something exciting, like for example at an amusement park, I am not going to check my phone or social media as much. But you know for sure that I am going to take a picture and post it so everyone can see what a great and exciting life I am living.

 We love to share our lives with others. We like to look impressive. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I follow random people on social media just because their lives look awesome. They live the “Pinterest Perfect” life that many of us desire to look like we have. I have sometimes taken a picture of one thing on one clean spot on my floor. You would never know that about two feet away there was a giant load of laundry needed to be folded or toys scattered around. That is because we don’t way to seem unorganized or uneasy to the public.

Social media is extremely important for teens. In a writing written by Danah Boyd, she discusses about how important social media is to teenagers. When we were younger we used chat rooms and Myspace, but we had to do it in our homes and actually connect to the internet. And when you connected to the internet you could not use your home phone. Now teenagers have the accessibility at the tip of their finger tips. Boyd says, “Although the specific technologies change, they collectively provide teens with a space to hang out and connect with friends.”  (Boyd, 2008, 5) These spaces are available to them at anytime and any place. These affect the emotional standing of teenagers because they can interact with their friends at any given time. 

Celebrities are also important when it comes to the internet and social media. These people who have thousands of followers looking on their accounts have an excellent way to push a platform. They are able to share important issues within society or political issues. On the other side, people can also use social media as a platform for hateful groups and to push out certain people.

We can see both positive and negative examples of those in the public eye who use the internet to push their platforms. For example, Sofia Bush uses twitter to show her support for women’s issues and rights. This kind of support is positive in the way she reaches out and shows that there is a problem. In an interview with Sofia Bush and AOL the following was said,

"Use the powers of social to further your causes -- and don't worry about it impacting your career. In Bush's case, the opposite happened. "I see the value of social media as an expressive space to elevate causes. I haven't had a day off since I signed up for my Twitter account. But to each his own. Do what's good for you," she says

On the other side, we saw from the recent Las Vegas shooting how the executive from CBS tweeted some insensitive things about the terrible incident.

There was also another study done by Anxiety UK. “The study also found that 45 per cent of people who are not able to access their social networks or email feel worried or uncomfortable as a result. And perhaps most surprising, 60 per cent of respondents said that they felt the need to switch off their mobiles/computers/Smartphones in order to have a break, with one in three of them saying they switched off several times a day.”

Even though these 60% of people said that they need to fully turn off their technologies to have a real break, I don’t think that necessarily means that they are unhappy.

There are plenty of things that bring us joy. People love sweets, movies, video games and the list goes on and on. But just like these things, social media is great in moderation and can make us feel happy and excited and enjoy life in a different way. 

 

Social media does cause anxiety to some people though. They can become addicted and rely on others to define who they are or their self worth. If this is the case, then social media can be a very unhealthy habit and should be monitored in a different way. Just like we love to connect with others, there are also trolls out there. These trolls write mean comments and hurt others from behind their screens.

For me, I love few social media accounts that I use. I love to connect with my few very close friends who live all over the country. To others, social media causes anxiety and self doubt. There is nothingwrong with social media, we all just need to know our personal limits and what is going to set us off or make us unhealthy. 

Sources:

Anxiety UK study finds technology can increase anxiety. (2015, October 17). Retrieved November 30, 2017, from https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/for-some-with-anxiety-technology-can-increa...

Boyd, D. (2008). Taken out of context: American teen sociality in networked publics.

Freydkin, D. (2016, July 14). Sophia Bush's shares her foolproof social media mantra: 'Don't be cruel'. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from https://www.aol.com/article/2015/09/29/sophia-bushs-foolproof-social-med...

Kayla Watterson, November 30th 2017, Personal Phone

Kayla Watterson, November 30th 2017, Social Media Logos

Kayla Watterson, November 30th 2017, Teenager Social Media Happiness

Maialisa, November 30th 2017, Anxiety, Retreieved from URL

mkhmarketing, March 8 2013, Growing Social Media, Retrieved from URL

Purrier, J. (2017, April 24). Automation And Society: Will Democracy Survive The Internet Of Things? Retrieved November 30, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-purrier/internet-of-things_b_161401...

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. B., & Lampe, C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 434-445. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.002

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