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5 Ways People Change When They Quit Social Media

5 Ways People Change When They Quit Social Media

There’s no denying that social media is all around us. To many people, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most consistent presences in their lives. But this doesn’t mean that social media is inescapable. Many people actively choose to stay off of these platforms, opting instead for a more visceral experience in life. And they just may be on to something. When people cut the cord and start actively living, good things start happening.

1. They gain confidence

We’ve become so accustomed to using social media and electronics to communicate with others that, for some, face-to-face interaction has become incredibly difficult. While it’s easy to write an email to a supervisor or reach out to new clients through Twitter, it’s much more difficult to do so in person. But that’s only because it takes practice to improve and strengthen your interpersonal skills.

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As you stop relying on social media to make person-to-person interaction easier and more simplified, you’ll allow yourself to expand your comfort zone. The more you work on social interaction, the easier it becomes.

2. They don’t constantly seek validation

Of course, everyone likes to know their opinions and suggestions are appreciated and valued, but the ubiquity of social media has made this validation an obsession for some. I know that I’ve found myself checking my phone over and over again after making a witty comment or sending out a well thought-out tweet to see how many people “liked” or “shared” my message. In reality, I know the people who “liked” my comment simply clicked a button and moved on with their lives.

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Those who stay off media seek out actual validation where it matters; but they don’t become overly obsessed with being accepted that it ends up taking over their lives.

3. They can focus on what’s important to them

Social media is full of, for lack of a better term, fluff. Even if you don’t subscribe to any pages yourself, your friends are constantly sharing articles and websites that, first of all, may or may not be factual, and second of all, probably don’t interest you in the slightest.

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So many of us (again, myself included) spend way too much time wading through headlines that we don’t care about in search of one or two articles that might benefit us in some way. When you stay off social media, you can actively seek out the things in life that interest you, and end up learning something pertinent to your life in the process.

4. They communicate more effectively

I spoke a little before about how those who don’t use social media are actually more social in person. But not only are they more social, they’re also better at communicating entirely. A tweet or a Facebook status are made up of simple words on a computer or phone screen; there’s almost no way to effectively communicate the underlying tone of the message.

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When you’re face-to-face with the person you’re speaking to, the mood of the conversation becomes crystal clear based on facial expression, body language, and tone of voice.

5. They become more aware and live in the moment

Let’s be serious: most of us have used social media as a crutch at times. Think about those times you were waiting for a friend at the mall, or sitting on a bench waiting for a bus to arrive. Instead of taking in your surroundings, you probably took out your phone to mindlessly scroll through your various feeds, pretending to look busy. But by doing so, you miss out on so much of the world around you.

When you put your phone away, you start to appreciate even the little things in life that you never knew existed before.

Featured photo credit: Mobile phone and the Japanese 2 / Cocoarmani via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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