The Dark Side of Social Media: How It Contributes to Depression and Stress
The simplest way to explain human nature is, ‘If we like something, we want it more.’
Let’s call it the 1st nature of humans.
If you like a video game, you will play it repeatedly.
If you find something tasty you have never eaten before; you will try to eat it daily.
The examples are numerous, but you got the point.
No one likes to do things which cause pain and suffering. We don’t like to wake up at 4 am and go for a workout.
We don’t like to be on a diet that can help us lose weight.
You may ask, what does this have to do with social media?
Let me answer your question,
The Feeling Good Trap of Social Media
We are on social media because it makes us feel good. There is nothing wrong with that.
It is good to connect with other people, have 10,000 friends and have a peek at their daily lives.
Moreover, there are reels nowadays, which can make us relax and recharge at any moment.
So, what’s the problem?
Here is the underlying trap-
- The contents on social media are stimulants which can make us feel good.
- According to the 1st nature of humans, we want to consume more of these contents because it makes us feel good.
- Unlike the girl from the coffee shop or junk food, social media content or stimulants are endless. You can watch reels for hours and hours, but you cannot find an end to it.
- The 2nd nature of humans is, “If we consume the same information every day, we start to enjoy it less.” This is why we don’t have the same excitement or enjoyment if we watch the same video repeatedly.
- This is why relationships fade over time; most do, and we get bored with the same video game after playing repeatedly. There is nothing new. All we want is new, not the old stuff.
- Based on this nature, over consumption of social media makes us feel low and sad.
- There comes a time when watching reels becomes boring, learning about others becomes less exciting, or the likes and comments we receive daily become meaningless.
- The 3rd nature of humans is, “Boredom is our enemy, so we are always on a hunt for pleasure.” We cannot sit for a minute without doing anything.
- Our brain is always on the search for finding something new. If we are bored, we eat junk food and watch Netflix for hours as if it will save us from the devil.
- Based on 3rd nature, we return to social media to make us feel good again.
- So, we started with social media; it made us feel good, then it made us feel bad, and once we felt bad, we started again with social media.
Habits and Developing Addiction that Cause Depression and Stress.
You can understand now where we are going with this.
The 4th nature of humans is, “If we repeat something repeatedly, which also is a source of pleasure, it becomes a habit.”
Based on 4th nature, which can also be defined as a law, we can conclude that social media browsing can become a habit in no time.
Once it becomes a habit, we browse social media without putting any conscious thought into it.
The moment you wake up, you will find yourself clicking instagram or snapchat apps on your phone. It becomes an automatic process.
Here is how it causes depression and stress,
- Habits can lead to social media addiction over time because of the endless and free content.
- The more time you spend on social media, the less time you will have for your work and family, health, and personal goals.
- One of the most interesting things about social media addiction is that people who over consume social media daily, start to find other things boring.
- This is humans’ 5th nature: “Once you find a constant source of endless pleasure, you start to find other things boring.”
- Once your source of pleasure and happiness depends on social media, you start to enjoy fewer things in life. Even the things you once were passionate about.
- Once you don’t find joy in your work, you will procrastinate, delay your project, fail to complete many promises in your relationships and feel bad.
- Once you feel bad, low, and have a negative self-image, what will you do? Guess.
Yes, browse more social media.
The cycle will continue. This will create stress and make you depressed and lonely over time.
The Comparison Trap
In the above, we talked about creating a habit and developing social media addiction.
Let’s now understand the psychological point of view of social media consumption.
- Once we fall behind in life, we don’t enjoy or feel good when we see others’ progress. Social media tends to show a filtered version of people’s lives.
- People only share the good moments of their lives, like partying, going to the gym, traveling with friends, buying cars, etc.
- When we see good things happening to people and not us, we tend to become sad and frustrated.
- Your 10,000 friends are happy and progressing in their lives, except you. It gives you a sense of loneliness and makes you feel bad.
- What happens when you feel low, lonely, and frustrated? Guess again. Yes, you browse more social media to make yourself feel good.
5 Basic Human Nature.
- If we like something, we want it more.
- If we consume the same information daily, we enjoy it less.
- Boredom is our enemy, so we are always hunting for pleasure.
- If we repeat something repeatedly, which also is a source of pleasure, it becomes a habit.
- Once you find a constant source of endless pleasure, you start to find other things boring.
The Way Out
The good news is humans have a conscious brain.
Yes, we become addicted by our unconscious brain, but we can also break this addiction with our conscious brain.
The only thing you need to do is take a break from social media.
Once you do this, your passion for work will return, your thinking will become clearer, and you will find joy and happiness in your life.
Happiness doesn’t come from junk food, weed, or browsing social media.
Happiness comes from your core values.
If you value your dreams and goals, working on them will generate happiness.
Statistics on Social Media Addiction
- Around 70% of teens and young adults have a social media addiction in the US.
- More than 50% of Drivers admit to checking social media while driving.
- Around 76% of Asian-Americans experience anxiety when they are not able to access social media.
- Teenagers between 13-18 spend on average 3 hours and 1 minute on social media. Some exceed more than 9 hours on social media each day.
- 68% of teens take devices to their bed and 1/4th of parents wake up at night and check their phones. ( most often check social media and reply to notifications)
- Gen Z ( Age 11-26) age group are more stressed than any other age group. (Probably because of the highest usage of social media by this age group)
- Over 60% of men and over 55% of women are addicted to social media.
Social media is not the devil here.
Infect, social media is helpful if you use it correctly.
It is a great way to find people, connect with one another and help to boost your mood.
The key is moderation.
Use social media consciously.
Don’t use it only because you feel bad or low.
Don’t use it as if your happiness depends on it.
Use it only because you truly want to use it.