Social media have become an inevitable part of our life, so we rarely or never question their negative impacts. What are the bad sides no one talks about? Find out!
The power that social media networks have over people is often taken as frivolous. But studies show that every each of us (users) has experienced at least one of those negative impacts. And this happens almost every day.
The effects can be physical and mental. It can lead you to a totally different perception of the world, and even yourself. However social media has a lot of positive impacts, too. It is just important to favor these.
We have put together a short listing of negative impacts, so if you recognize any of them troubling you, it is time to reduce your time on social media.
How much time do you spend on social media daily? If you are not sure about the answer, that is already not a good sign. You can use an app such as StayFree to measure how much time you spent using each app on your phone. You can even limit your usage and set the reminder. There are plenty of apps such as this one that can help you.
Spending too much time on social networks can negatively affect your mood (especially with the bad news lately), and you can start showing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Except for the bad news and events that have been striking the whole world in the last couple of months, there is one more thing that invokes anxiety in social media users. On the networks, we see only the best elements of the lives of the people we follow. Often, even fake components. If you start comparing these elements to your life, that is a guaranteed way to feel bad.
No matter how hard it sounds, if this is the case, you seriously need to reduce your time on social media. The “normal” time you should spend is around half an hour daily. And, of course, don’t believe everything you see there.
Before the rise of social media, bullying was something that we experienced face-to-face. Mostly in school, or the workplace. Now, another level of opportunities opened for bullies. Some are anonymous, and some are not. But it may be one of the worst social media negative impacts on a person.
Social networks allow us to faster create friends and different connections with people. For example, I once added some friends because of the game I played at the time, and one of them is still my (Facebook) friend after 10 years. Even we live on different sides of the world, and we’ll probably never meet, exchanging some comments and messages now and then is often pleasant. When you “know” someone for 10 years, he notices when you changed your hair color. Unfortunately, this is one of the rare positive examples. More often, people are hiding behind fake profiles to bully you. Sometimes it is someone we know in person, and he/she thinks that it has a good reason to bully you, and sometimes it is just people who are bored and unhappy with their own life so they’ll pick on anyone.
Whatever the reason is, these actions can leave deep scars on a person who is bullied. If the bullying is unbearable, it can lead to self-hurting or even suicide. Set your profile to the highest privacy and do not accept anyone you don’t know in person, or you have interacted with them (positively) somehow. If you notice any kind of bullying, report it, and block the profile.
Types of cyberbullying
As a girl with a high presence on social media, I have experienced everything: from crazy ex-friends leaving a rude comment, to unwanted nude photos from the guys I don’t know. The bad thing is that anyone can send you a message on social media. Heck, I even got a photo of a gun with the message “I got you, b*tch” from the person I truly don’t know and am not anyhow related to. Even I grew a thick skin for these things, because it’s my job and I had to, it got me thinking what did I do wrong to piss that person. The answer is – nothing. His parents did.
This is why this topic is very important. Cyberbullying is not present just among the children. (Who should not be allowed to use social media without supervision, by the way.)
- Constant reporting of the same profile on social media will result in suspending his/her account. Option to report someone is there with a reason, but it is very common to be abused.
- Posting rumors, lies, threats, or any kind of embarrassing information through comments.
- Sending a large number of (usually disturbing) texts.
- Impersonating another user to cause problems, usually by changing his/her profile and posting inappropriate things. That can be done by hacking into someone’s account, or by creating a fake one with the same name, photos, information, etc.
- Pretending to be someone else to lure a person into a relationship. This is extremely dangerous.
- Chatting with someone’s friends by pretending to be that person.
- Posting nude photographs on the internet for anyone to see and download.
- Sending messages that include nude or degrading photographs of the victim, to distribute them as much as possible.
- Taking nude or degrading photographs without a person’s consent (in the bathroom, locker room, dressing room e.g.).
- Threatening and/or blackmailing someone to share the photographs, in order to control them.
The same can be done with a video. Creating a video that shows someone upset or anyhow emotionally disturbed, and pulled out of context has become very often. The acts of bullying other people or torturing animals are present on social media, too.
3. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
Among the negative impacts, FOMO is a relatively new phenomenon. It has appeared at the same time as the popularity of social media grew. But don’t let that fool you. Its negative effects are the most widely spread among social media users.
Its name came from the fear and anxiety you can experience when you are scared that you will miss something important. Mostly it’s fear of missing positive experiences on social media. That is not just scrolling through your news feed, but also checking your messages too many times.
4. Unrealistic expectations
An average user of social media is mostly aware of their negative impacts, and unrealistic expectations are one of the most common that we can acknowledge.
Have you ever seen dozens of photos on somebody’s profile, announcing their new relationship? Constant photo shooting of the couple, dinners, gifts, etc., talking about how much they love each other? And then, after a couple of weeks, maybe months, “the significant other” just disappears from their feed, just as he/she did from their life. Sometimes is accompanied by sad or angry posts, but mostly is just silence which gives away that nothing was real in that story.
Most social media networks are having trouble with authenticity. But it’s not their problem, actually. It’s the people who do that. The great loves, the exciting adventures, and travels, “I woke up this way” with heavy make-up and similar stuff we can not always see through make us feel less worthy. You may ask yourself why is your life not so exciting.
Sometimes it’s hard to determine what is staged and what is not. But it doesn’t matter anyway, there is no need to compare yourself with anyone. Yes, maybe they really have a great relationship, but in debt over their head. Or they travel and have fun, but not talking to their family for years. These are just examples. What we really want to know here is that everyone has their own problems. Some people are just more desperate for likes, approval, and attention.
5. Negative body image
Unreal, beautiful people are posting their photos wearing expensive clothes, pretty makeup, and have perfect bodies. It makes you think about how you look, and the result is mostly negative.
When you are sitting at home in your pajamas (and that is what we all lately do), scrolling through your feeds, it is hard to come to realistic judgments about it. It is really important to remember that these people don’t wake up like that (no matter what they say). They have gone through great efforts to train their bodies, and sometimes they spend hours preparing. And shoot dozens of photos to choose one “perfect”.
Circle yourself with people who love you for who you are.
Addiction to social media in any form can have negative impacts on your life and your mental health. It makes us automatically check news and messages without even thinking about it. If you are not sure if you have a problem try to think about the last time when you didn’t check social media networks the whole day. Do you take things too personal, for example when someone unfollows you? And how would you feel if you needed to delete all your accounts?
As I said before – there are good things and bad things about social media. It’s up to you to determine which ones you’ll take advantage of. Let us know what you think about it.