Social Media And The Distance It Creates From Our Friends And Ourselves
By Gwynn Vaiciulis
It is no secret that our phones and social media have become part of our everyday lives. Social media has become more of a hobby than a tool to communicate. With so much time being spent online and on social media, what was created to bring us closer together is driving us farther apart from our community and even ourselves.
A study found that high usage of social media increases our feelings of loneliness. When we are not spending time with our friends, we are often watching what they are doing on social media. This often leads to FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” which is a feeling that other people are living better lives or having more fun than we are.
This idea is damaging to our relationships, as we begin to resent the people that have a “better life,” and constantly feel the need to compete with them, though there is no reason to. We may become jealous of them, and post things that attempt to make it look like our lives are just as great. FOMO can lead to anxiety, depression, and loneliness as we start to question our own lives. It leads us to constantly check our phones and prioritize social media over real-life experiences and relationships.
Beyond relationships with others, social media is incredibly damaging to the relationships we have with ourselves. Like FOMO, social media inevitably forces us to compare ourselves to every person we follow. Whether it is an airbrushed model, a beautiful friend, or a successful coworker, it is so easy to feel as though we don’t measure up. This negatively impacts our self-esteem and in the long run often leads to depression as we are constantly thinking “why can’t I be like that?”
This issue has gotten increasingly worse with the rise of influencers. We look up to them and want to be like them, which can lead us to lose sight of who we are. People will buy products or change aspects of their life simply because an influencer did.
This comparison, whether to our personal friends or influencers/celebrities, is not something that happens every once in a while. It is an inevitable thought every time we open our phones, which is incredibly often.
While the content we see on social media negatively impacts our mental health, the amount of time spent on social media does as well. Social media is often used as a way to fill all gaps of free time we may have. Whether it is a break during class, an Uber ride, or even a Saturday afternoon with a few free hours, social media is usually what we turn to. On average, we spend 145 minutes on social media everyday. Spending this amount of time on social media every day is equivalent to an average of six years and eight months in our lifetime. And this is just an average. American teenagers spend upwards of nine hours on social media, not including what they do for school or homework.
With so much time spent on social media, the detrimental effects on the relationship we have with ourselves and the relationships we have with others are increasingly prevalent. Therefore, it is important to remember that social media is a place where people share their highs, their best moments. We don’t get to see people’s struggles or challenges, but that does not mean they don’t have them. In reality, we all have them.