A student once asked me at a talk about the relationship with college-aged students and social media. I speak about it somewhat in my presentation and I’ve written about it in another blog post. Yet, there has been more research done on the relationship between social media and loneliness since I wrote that post and I wanted to share some of it.
One thing individuals do when they post on social media is they are most often sharing highlights or interesting aspects of their lives. The constant barrage of one photo after another of someone at a party, or enjoying the day with their family can make one feel as though they’re missing out. And it doesn’t even mean that one feels as though s/he is missing out on something with those around them (a friend’s party, perhaps). It can mean that one feels as though they’re missing out on fun in general. They may think, “Here I am, scrolling through my phone at home by myself, and my friends are having a fun time.”
Another thing to note is that social media is a curated medium. While I mentioned this in my blog post on this subject before, I’d like to expand upon it. When you think about it, what are people doing when photographed? The automatic reaction of most people is to smile. Yet we don’t see what their experiences were immediately before or after that photograph.
That said, social media use can be a good thing. It can allow us to stay in touch with friends and family members who are far away from us. It can help us find out when events are taking place and make connections with new people from all over the world. What we need is to educate people (including students) about social media and technology in general. These devices and opportunities are upon us but no one learned beforehand about the possible repercussions of too much use. Social media can become addicting, like anything else that gives us a buzz from what our brains recognize as a positive interaction.
Too much social media usage can lead to periods of loneliness, though. It can feel isolating to see others live what we perceive to be exciting, fun lives, when ours may not be the same. Yet, that curated existence isn’t true to form. It’s the responsibility of parents, schools, and childhood development organizations to educate everyone on the role that social media plays on mental health. They also bear responsibility to help teach the ways in which social media can lead to addiction and loneliness.
This blog is an exploration of the subjects of belonging and loneliness. I also look at mental health issues. I seek to provide content to my readers that is informative and helpful. If you don't want to miss anything, sign up for my email list.