Is Social Media Making Us Miserable?

Social media is making the world a miserable place. Web services like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are supposed to make people feel more connect. They allow the masses to keep in contact with old friends and family, reach out to their favorite celebrities and let them see locations most will never see in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, these services also contribute to the development of mental health issues (Barr, 2019). Why do people keep using these services when it’s well-known that spending too much time using these apps can damage someone’s self-esteem and mental wellbeing? While it’s true that social media can give people a sense of community, it can also cause anxiety, fear and depression from harassment and bullying from anonymous users.

Social media has become the preferred form of communication for many. No longer does someone have to worry about paying long distance charges when all they have to do is open up Facebook Messenger to talk to friends and family from across the country.  LinkedIn has made it easier than ever to advance your career and keep in touch with other like-minded professionals. Twitter can break news stories long before actual news stations pick it up (Kollman, 2013). Instagram can bring other parts of the world directly to you without having to pay the airline fees to see these locations.

These platforms have also been used to spread hate propaganda, influence elections, and have made anonymous bullying easier than ever. Social media was a promising communication tool that is now used to post memes, fake news, disturbing media and other random nonsense. It make its users feel popular and/or lonely, depending on the size of their list of followers. It can also cause feelings of anxiety or depression due to fear of missing out, and thanks to photo manipulation, it can give people a poor concept of their own self-image.

Social media is also the preferred online tool of harassment for many trolls and predators. Facebook should be a community where you can have a civilized conversation with friends and family, get caught up with other people’s lives. Instead, you have to deal with racists, homophobes and malicious users who spread inappropriate content, like a group of French journalists that used Facebook to anonymously bully and harass women through groups and its instant messenger service (Willsher, 2019). LinkedIn is just a fancy job board where you fake interest in other people’s careers and accomplishments in order to make yourself appear supportive in hopes of expanding your own network, which likely consists of people you’ve met once, possibly in high school, and strangers who mistake it for Tinder (Hunt, 2017). Twitter has been used by entitled white men to attack comic book creators and editors for what they perceive as forced diversity in comics all because the publishers are moving forward with the times, and creating more characters that aren’t young white men (Krishna, 2018). Instagram is best known for showing people what you’ve had for lunch, pictures of your cat and sunsets from your last vacation, but it also known to cause body image issues and psychological distress due to fear or missing out, or FOMO as it is known online (MacMillian, 2017).

While it’s true that social media can give people a sense of community, it can also cause anxiety, fear and depression from harassment and bullying from anonymous users. The anonymity of the internet allows for people to act without inhibition, and act in a hostile way, regardless of anyone else’s feelings.  That’s not to say all people are like this online.  It’s like you’re at a party and everyone is having a good time, then someone you don’t know shows up yelling homophobic and racial slurs at the other party guests, and trying to start arguments with anyone who will listen.  It’s not everyone, but there is a very vocal minority that loves to ruin the party for everyone.

Works Cited:

Willsher, Kim. “French ‘boys’ club’ of journalists accused of bulling women online”

The Guardian

, The Guardian, 11 Feb. 2019

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/11/french-boys-club-of-journalists-accused-of-bullying-women-online

Hunt, Elle. “LinkedIn is the worst of social media. Should I delete my account?”

The Guardian

, The Guardian, 9 June. 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/11/french-boys-club-of-journalists-accused-of-bullying-women-online

Krishna, Rachael “There’s An Online Harassment Campaign Underway Against People Advocating For Diversity In Comics”

BuzzFeed News

, BuzzFeed, 22 Mar. 2018

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/krishrach/comicsgate

Kollman, Diane. “Life of a Follower: The Many Benefits of Twitter”

Huffington Post

, Huffpost.com, 20 Mar. 2013

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/life-of-a-follower-the-ma_b_2900391

MacMillian, Amanda. “Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health” Time, Time, 25 May. 2017

https://time.com/4793331/instagram-social-media-mental-health/

Barr, Sabrina “Six Ways Social Media Negatively Affects Your Mental Health”

Independent

, Independent, 10 Oct. 2019

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/social-media-mental-health-negative-effects-depression-anxiety-addiction-memory-a8307196.html