It comes almost as no surprise that a recent study conducted by the University of Copenhagen has discovered that spending a lot of time on Facebook, aka skimming through pictures of people in their perfect settings, can lead to negative mental health. It has concluded that over consumption of Facebook feeds can create envy and to be more precise, “unrealistic social expectations”.
Talk about slow poison. Yikes.
Actually, we knew this. If not previous other psychological studies, at least our mothers have been warning us about our Facebook consumption since times quintessential until they themselves joined the bandwagon.
Where this childhood classmate went on that vacation, when that colleague from some college traineeship won some xyz award, iski beti, uski chachi, Facebook thrusts us into the drawing room of everybody’s lives. We can now keep a silent track of everyone’s lives even when they are not one of our favouritest celebs ever.
I mean you definitely remember what happened when that girl took a selfie with that boy at that place and that person made that comment at that time, right? Hmph. It’s basically a lot of unnecessary information that might be doing you more harm than good.
The study, as reported on BBC, suggests that Facebook stalking can lead to depression. Heavy Facebook usage has been correlated directly to heightened stress and anxiety. In a set of around 1300 respondents, Facebook users who spend too much time thinking over pictures and statuses of other users have reported more jealousy and greater emotional instability.
I am no psychologist but here’s my conjecture: Stalking on Facebook basically gives a person undue freedom to make his/her own personal conjectures. In such a scenario, the user is likely to spend a lot of time imagining that the other people are much better off than they are and are likely to have lower self confidence. This habit of ‘comparing’ is the root of all evil.
Even though, overall passive newsfeed browsing has a greater negative effect than a positive one, the habit of ‘social comparison’, as the psychologists are calling it, can specifically cause depression in the longer run.
Therefore, the solution?
Use less Facebook. Naturally.
This study, and many other previous ones, thus recommends spending less time online. Although, if you want a real shot of good health, you should stop being on social media altogether!
But well, I don’t think that’s really doable… So, people need to rein in their regular urges to casually waste time investigating the nitty gritties of other people’s existence. Gossip was never a healthy cup of tea.
If you catch yourself comparing to anyone’s updates, stop yourself right there. Being conscious about your habits can help you in a big way to improve your mental health.
But guess what?
On the flipside, the same study also said that being active on Facebook, like updating, commenting, and most importantly connecting with other people reduces stress and boosts moods. Being social in social media helps, but stalking is a strict no-no if you want any peace of mind.
Social media is here to stay and I don’t think we can altogether avoid it. But yes, as we have come to know over the years, there is a good side and a bad side to everything amazing. It is then up to us how we use it and are we affected by it.
If following certain people on Facebook is making you miserable, quit it. It won’t do you any good. But if you cannot quit the behavior, you might need to quit social media if you don’t want to be depressed.
So this new year, what will your new social media resolutions going to be?
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.