Some of the research on social media has suggested that social media can be a contributor to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders to name a few. Although I agree with this to some extent being that I am a therapist and I see this firsthand, I wonder if the way in which we use and think about social media contributes to one’s mental health. Let’s talk about four ways social media can be a benefit and leave our negative Nancy hat on the rack.
1. Social Media Inspires Us
Social media can be such an inspiring place to be a part of. It has a wealth of knowledge and ideas that can not only be beneficial but also just be simply fun to watch. From poetry, dance, stories, and music the possibility of things you’ll see on social media that can make an impression on you is endless.
Now, before I continue on how great social media can be, I’d like to share what I am guilty of. I used to use social media as a platform to compare and berate myself for not being like other people. It’s almost like I would tune in on a bad day just to worsen my mood. At the time, I didn’t realize I was unconsciously seeking out negativity. I would say things to myself like “maybe if I dressed like her, he would like me more” or “if I had her dance skills, people would think I’m special.” After a while I learned three things, I was counting someone else’s blessings and not my own, his or her dream was not my idea of who or what I wanted to be, and I was giving myself little credit for the many things that made me special.
When I became aware of this I had to clean up shop. In other words, I deleted pages that didn’t inspire me. I choose to unfollow, mute, and immerse myself in content I found uplifting, engaging, and of course inspiring. If I was going to be an avid social media user, I had to create a space for myself that made me feel good about myself and gave me clarity and peace of mind. I had to create inspiration for Brea and not anyone else. I found that I enjoyed seeing pages that had quotes, poems, dancing, and personal stories, etc. These are things that inspire me. What types of pages inspire you? Is it a page that only showcases puppies or yoga?
2. Connects Us to the Political World
The news has evolved; kids and young adults no longer look to newspapers or TV to receive news on a consistent basis. They look to other forms of social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, because these platforms are more easily accessible at any given time. I can remember a time as a child when social media wasn’t as prevalent and I knew little to nothing about politics because I didn’t read the newspaper and found the news to be confusing. I look at kids today who I interact with as a therapist and can see they are informed. They know what’s going on in the world and can have a conversation about how certain topics in the news make them feel. To me this is positive in that, social media outlets have created space for tough and sometimes uncomfortable political conversations to be had. To me, this is a progression in the right direction for people to gather and have conversations around politics and help one another gain an understanding of what is happening in the world.
Social media keeps us connected to those we don’t have direct physical contact with on a daily basis. We can like a picture or comment to let them know we’re thinking about them or enjoy seeing what they’re up to. We can also create new connections for a stronger sense of community or an opportunity to collaborate with someone creatively or otherwise. Connections on social media can make you feel less alone. There are endless groups to be a part of and lots of people that struggle with some of the same issues that you yourself struggle with. Social media and the people who use it have used this connectivity to form bonds that last a lifetime, as well as opportunities for jobs. As humans, we need a sense of belonging, which has been achieved through social media and can be great when used in a healthy way.
4. Increases Confidence
Lastly, I think social media has the ability to increase confidence and push you out of your comfort zone. Now, I did say increase and not create, because as we know that’s an inside job. Social media has the ability for you to share your thoughts, emotions, creative projects and have others comment and share in your excitement. Social media can push you to take a chance on yourself and continue pushing the bar as you create content. Interacting with a positive group on social media has similar effects as interacting with a supportive group in person. Although we know there are some differences, the similarity is that interacting with positive and inspiring people can potentially challenge you to become the best version of yourself, thus creating a positive sense of self, which breeds CONFIDENCE.
Anything can be a gift or a curse depending on how you use it. Let social media be a gift and inspire you to be the best version of yourself. The last thing I’ll leave you with is what you focus on becomes your reality.