Last week I was asked to give a workshop on how social media impacts our mental health. As much as it seems an easy topic, it turned into an amazing conversation about all the benefits and all the risks. One thing came out for sure as a conclusion: for nearly all of us social media is a fact of life and we must learn to cope with it in a healthy way. And it is not just resisting our impulses, balancing our privacy, it is also protecting our self-esteem and maintaining our social skills. But let’s talk first about the benefits!
Acknowledging the advantages of social media
According to the statistics, social media is being used by 3.6 billion users, and there will be approximately 4.41 billion users by 2025. Let’s agree that we are totally dependent on technology and social media. If it is for our social life, our education or our businesses we can’t live without it. Here is a reminder of the positive aspects:
- Communication skills
- Making friends
- Shared fight for mental health
- Voice for the voiceless
- Access to business
While children and teenagers navigate their social networks, establishing new relationships, experiencing bad behavior they learn important life skills. But how is it for us who didn’t grow up with it? How is it for us parents or teachers who need to protect the new generation?
Honest about the disadvantages of social media
- One of the most important disadvantages is the lack of connection between people. Do you remember the day we used to call our friends for hours or just come by their place? These days people find it easier to just send a message on social media. But can we express ourselves the same way, can we feel the same emotions?
- Social media allows people to have a more direct communication. We easier say what we think, and by that we can be easier hurtful to the other. Also it is very easy to tell our opinion about everything and everybody, even when our opinion is not asked and is not contributing. Bullying, name calling, cancelling people are all known phenomenon on social media.
- The fear of missing out is probably the most well-known disadvantage, but how about the exaggerated desire to share too much about ourselves. All to be liked or to be accepted. But does a like give that to us?
- Spending much time on social media results in neglecting “real life” social activities. Because of less and less practicing we are losing our social skills.
- By withdrawing from social activities, meeting friends or family we are isolating and lose connection. The feeling of loneliness and not belonging will be inevitable.
- As a result of comparing our lives to others perfect life, perfect looks, perfect boyfriends, happy families, perfect jobs, the pressure on our life gets unbearable. Suicide rates are growing amongst young people who can’t live with the pressure of perfect performing.
- An irrational self-picture and expectations can make us forget our real value, why our real friends and family love us.
How do we prevent the damage on our self-esteem?
Most important of all is to take initiative, pick up the phone, talk open and honest to your friends. Practice those social skills and feel connected! Just do it! Don’t wait for the other to reach-out, do it yourself. Feel accepted by your friends, and appreciated for your real-life value. You are more than just that perfect image on social media. And those opinions of people are not defining who you are. Neither the positive nor the negative. It is important to build up and maintain a healthy self-esteem. A healthy self-esteem is based on real life activities and experiences. What makes you “you”, that unique person you are? What makes your friends value you, which talents, skills, or character you have that they want to hang around with you? If you didn’t learn your self-value as a kid, it will take some practice as an adult to learn to accept your appearance and abilities. Accept that you are not less than another, and another is not less than you. We are all a unique combination of looks, characters, skills, expressions that make us loveable for the people close to us. Including our mistakes and imperfections.
You are welcome to come by for an initial talk so that we can start working on strengthening your self-esteem!