Breaking News: Social media makes people feel lonely.
Who knew that spending countless hours observing the picture-perfect lives of internet celebrities could make someone feel lonely, insecure, and dreadfully anxious.
Well, if this comes as a surprise to you, a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh has examined the subject in detail. They have discovered that instead of connecting us, social media is making us feel lonely.
The scientists explain:
“Positive interactions on social media are not making young adults feel more connected, whereas negative experiences increase the likelihood of them reporting loneliness.”
They studied 1,787 adults aged 19 to 32. The volunteers were asked to operate through several social media apps, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.
After examining the way people interact with the different networking websites, the researchers found that those who used the apps more than 58 times per week were three times more likely to feel lonely than the ones who visited them less than 9 times.
However, that was back in 2019, before we even knew the world would face a global pandemic and millions of people will have to work from home. Today, we can honestly say that we spend far too many hours scrolling through social media feeds and sponsored posts about things we never really said we want out loud.
Why does social media make us feel so miserable?
According to Professor Brian Primack, the lead scientist in the study, apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are breaking us apart instead of bringing us together. He states:
“While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to fill that social void, I think this study suggests that it may not be the solution people were hoping for.”
If you think about it, we wouldn’t have the term ‘digital detox’ if we enjoyed every second of our online time. We wouldn’t voluntarily refrain from using all the devices that make us lose track of time and alienate us from reality. We wouldn’t relate to quotes saying: “Offline is the new luxury.”
More importantly, we wouldn’t battle with mental health issues triggered by the highly addictive aspect of all the social networking we engage with every single day.
Of course, social media is not entirely toxic.
It offers fantastic opportunities for business owners to expand their market. What’s more, it provides a platform for anyone eager to express themselves and impact others. Besides, it gives us access to things and people we wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise, or at least not in the matter of a single click.
But in a world where everything is measured in likes, hashtags, and algorithms, it’s understandable that most of us feel quite lonely and depressed while scrolling through newsfeeds and suggested posts. That’s because this virtual experience makes us compare ourselves to others. And when we do, we often fail to realize that people only post about their milestones and happy moments. No one would expose their hurdles on Instagram or create a Facebook page about going through family drama. There are far too few influencers that are not afraid to show their stretch marks or share their personal problems with their followers.
So we continue struggling with our own issues while secretly wishing to be like the cheerful people with perfect hairstyles and flawless makeup we follow on social media.
Eventually, we become anxious and worried that we can’t live up to their standard of life, which makes us feel even more miserable.
In such cases, the aforementioned digital detox is a great temporary solution. Every once in a while, we all need to make time to reflect on what truly matters. No phones, no feeds, just you and your thoughts. This will give you a much-needed reality check, which will help you realize that you don’t have to be like someone else to feel happy. You just have to do the things you love, be yourself, and spend quality time with the people you care for, and it will be enough.
What do you think of the impact of social media on our lives? Let us know in the comment section!