Social media is a large part of our culture—from status updates about career changes to sharing albums full of family photos. There’s no doubt something so prominent in our society makes a big impact, but is that impact a positive one?
“From my perspective, it can go both ways,” says Steven Taylor, MD, psychiatrist at Beavercreek Behavioral Medicine. “I’ve seen many applications where people can be supportive, such as creating a community around illness.”
From this standpoint, social media can form a virtual space for people throughout the world to connect on something they have in common, which can be valuable for someone struggling to find those people in their direct proximity. However, as Dr. Taylor points out, social media can have other effects.
“Sometimes social media isn’t so helpful when you start comparing your life to what you see being posted, which is, a lot of times, not reality,” Dr. Taylor says. “If you forget you’re seeing only a select view of the other person’s life, you’re going to come up short by comparison.”
Beware of trolls
Dr. Taylor also advises that everyone using online platforms be way of the “internet troll,” which is defined by Psychology Today as “someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation.” Dr. Taylor warns that engaging with this type of online avatar can damage a person’s mental health.
“Your best bet is to disengage and not get into heated arguments,” Dr. Taylor says. “They often don’t care what you say; it’s all about provoking you.”
Be aware of the signs that your online involvement may be having negative repercussions. IF you notice you are becoming more agitated, anxious, or sad after using social media, it might be time to take a step back.
Take a break
Dr. Taylor suggests healthy behaviors to replace your social media time may be exercise, reading a book, or just getting outside. You should also watch your eating habits, as excessive screen time can lead to unconscious snacking.
“Getting outside and away from screens is a good way to have that offline time you need,” Dr. Taylor says. “Life is about balance.”
Here for you
If you are struggling, seek help by calling Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center at 1-855-788-2895 or visiting ketteringhealth.org/mentalhealth