Toxic Social Media

Social media is a fantastic tool for connection and entertainment. Scrolling the Facebook feed and learning about different fields quickly is great. But shifting your attention to different topics in a short span has its drawbacks (we shall see it later).

Your friends from all walks of life will share experiences from their professions, lifestyle, family, etc. Or you may even find new friends and influencers who greatly impact your life. You can even follow your favorite actors or sports stars. Sounds great!

Video platforms are trending now. They have an even stronger impact as visual media gets into your mind too fast. But sadly, social media also has a dark side. Excessive use or exposure to toxic content and comments can negatively impact your mental health in several ways. Here’s how:

1. Social Comparison, Wrong Decisions and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

  • Social media feeds often highlight reels, showcasing people’s best vacations, achievements, and relationships. Constantly comparing your everyday life to these curated snapshots can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
  • People rarely post about their problems in life unless they need financial help or use negative publicity to reach more people. This creates the illusion that the entire world is happy and you are the only person in trouble. It will definitely have a very bad impact on your life and the decisions you make.
  • At the same time, it also forces you to keep your life so perfect that it looks very good online. The pressure to keep up with a perceived “perfect” online life can fuel FOMO, anxiety, and a sense of being constantly behind.
  • Similarly, creating an attractive online profile can make you overconfident, egoistic, and often proud. On this path, you often fail to know who you are. Going far away from reality and creating a new fake world to keep your mind happy can be disastrous.

2. Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

  • The anonymity of the internet emboldens some users to engage in cruel and hurtful behavior. Cyberbullying, hate speech, and online harassment can leave lasting emotional scars. Words can hurt, and sometimes, certain incidents refuse to go away from your mind. Small mistakes can become too big on social media, and you will end up hurt because of the harsh words from the public.
  • We are in a world where people are afraid to trust GOODNESS. But when they hear negative news about you, they believe it without any investigation. Anything they hear negatively is TRUE. Anything positive about you should be cross-checked and doubted, as people feel most great things are made-up stories and cannot be true! So, with zero common sense and half-baked knowledge, people make some unwanted stories viral. Similarly, they can easily pass a bad comment about a sensitive matter without knowing how it will affect the concerned person and their family. Even news media is exploiting this negative tendency of us to gain more viewers.
  • Social media sometimes mimics gossip by village aunties. It takes on a modern platform; the only difference is that educational techies and keyboard warriors are involved. Viral posts, either negative or positive, can make or break people’s lives in seconds.

3. Sleep Disruption and Increased Screen Time

  • Constant notifications, glowing screens, and stimulating content can disrupt sleep patterns. Poor sleep, in turn, contributes to mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and increased stress. And it won’t stop there. It will impact your thinking, work, and relationships. The impact of blue light has been a point of discussion by experts for a long time. Switching off these gadgets as early as possible is better if you need good health.
  • The common misconception is that people who post a lot on social media are in trouble. But the reality is different. The person who posts may have spent a few minutes on the platform, but people who consume the posted media are the ones who silently keep scrolling for hours. They are the ones who face the brunt of addiction.

4. Increased Loneliness and Isolation

  • Ironically, excessive social media use can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. You miss what’s around you. Time spent on good hobbies like reading, sports, drawing, dancing, etc., is replaced by scrolling. This reduces your social circle, and you start feeling that the people you see on social media are connected to you and have a big circle. Yes, we can find good friends on social media, but are they true? Are they safe? Do you want to leave your real friends and family for them? When your virtual friends get busy with real life, you are left with none. Do you want to get depressed and feel isolated? Ghosting is common here. Do you want to choose to go into such worrying scenarios willingly?
  • Real-life interactions and genuine connections often suffer when replaced by shallow online interactions. Nowadays, social media is not just about chatting and sharing your life with someone you know nothing about. It has moved on from there to random people posting weird things to make you feel addicted. You keep scrolling to see the photographs and videos, which increases your dopamine, and you feel very happy. You go back to it repeatedly for the temporary happiness it gives.

5. Exposure to Negativity and Trolls

  • Social media algorithms can create echo chambers, feeding users more of the same content they already engage with, even if it’s negative or inflammatory. Exposure to negativity and online trolls can worsen anxiety and depression. The algorithm will feed you similar content if you keep watching negative feeds about a topic. After a few minutes, you start feeling fear that the whole world is so. For example, when you see news about thieves often, you will end up fearing someone will break into your home anytime soon. If you are not careful, social media can blunt your brain and make you a one-way road that cannot think from different points of view.

Protecting Your Mental Health From Toxic Social Media

Unless you yourself decide with a strong will, you cannot come out of this addiction. Here I am giving you some tips that will help you.

  • Be mindful of your social media usage: Set time limits and consider taking breaks to detox from the negativity. Pick a hobby and spend quality time. You can even spend time with your family so they, too, will not fall into this type of addiction. Prioritize spending quality time with loved ones and engaging in activities you enjoy offline.
  • Curate your feed: Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself or spread negativity. Be bold to do that. Remove anything toxic from your feed. What you see should be in your control. Instead of watching or reading random posts, search for posts you want to and avoid the rest.
  • Report online harassment: Don’t suffer in silence. Most platforms have reporting mechanisms for cyberbullying and harassment. Block people who harass you in direct messages. If the harassment persists, seek the help of elders. It’s not okay that some random people can pass derogatory comments about you for anything.
  • Seek help if needed: If social media is negatively impacting your mental health, don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist or counselor. You can close your accounts and go on a hiatus. You can read books like Dopamine Detox : A Short Guide to Remove Distractions and Get Your Brain to Do Hard Things and Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now for further information on how to tackle toxic social media addiction.

Remember, social media should enhance your life, not detract from it. By being mindful and taking control of your online experience, you can protect your mental well-being and enjoy the positive aspects of social connection.



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