Despite the misleading name, social media is not so social; it can actually create a sense of loneliness. According to a study done by Common Sense Media
“On any given day, American teenagers (13- to 18-year-olds) average about nine hours (8:56) of entertainment media use, excluding time spent at school or for homework.” This overwhelming amount of time suggests that while many teens are scrolling through countless pictures, videos and other posts, they are zoning out of the real world and before you know it, have gone hours without real life, face-to-face social interaction. This creates a false sense of human connection. “Liking” someone’s picture on Instagram does not create the same bond as asking them about their experiences in real life.
Another problem with social media is the amount of judgement and comparison that goes along with it.
According to an article written by Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge
“‘They Are Happier and Having Better Lives than I Am’: The Impact of Using Facebook on Perceptions of Others' Lives”, one study showed that “those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives.”
A majority of the time, social media users post the good parts of their lives, allowing the bad parts to be unseen. With that being said, these people's lives seem picture perfect; literally.
Essentially, people are creating online masks. Friends and other users start to compare these seemingly happy people to themselves and are often left disappointed. Comparing things like vacations, material possessions, relationships and so much more, it becomes difficult to not compare lives. This never ending cycle of comparison against deceitful masks often leads to a weakened self-esteem, and increased disappointment.
Disappointment is not the only emotion attached to social media.
Pew Research Center
found that 42% of teens feel “anxious” when they are without their phones, 25% feel “lonely”, and 24% feel “upset”.
This means that a majority of 56% of U.S. teens have a negative emotional impact when away from their phones.
So how can an inanimate object cause all of these emotions?
Because when away from social media, a feeling of detachment from the real world is formed.
Pew Research Center states that “57% (of teens) feel they often or sometimes have to respond to messages from other people immediately.”
If something as small as answering a text message is causing so much worry and stress, why have so much social media?
A Washington Post article titled “Five ways social media can be good for teens” states that social media can “help kids do good”, and “strengthen friendships”. However, there are other ways of doing good and strengthening friendship, to avoid the addiction and emotional darkness social media brings.
Strengthen friendships by hanging out in real life, face to face, with genuine conversations.
Do good by telling people in person what you believe, or changes you want to see in the world.
If this pattern of increased social media continues, real life, human connection will be lost, and in its place will be a comment section of false feelings and emotions.
And that is a lonely, self-esteem crushing world.