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Social media use and our mental health

By Ahad Bhaidani, February 27 2022—

Social Media as we know has become the world we escape to especially since the dreadful pandemic has begun — so much so that we have had Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg starting the “Metaverse” which is an online world in itself where we can attend weddings and do other real-life activities. 

If the conspiracy theory of us being in a simulation wasn’t enough, we have become like the Sims game characters. Mindlessly scrolling social media may give you an instant dopamine rush, although its long-lasting effects could mean insomnia, depression, unproductiveness and our constant comparison with people showing off their “real” lives. Listed below are some of the methods I use that I find effective for myself using social media. 

Follow people or pages that inspire you:

Social media can be a toxic place and following pages that spread that kind of negativity can prove detrimental to one’s mental health. Following influencers or people that make you feel bad about yourself and make you want to compare your life with theirs should be out of the “following” lists.

News pages that post news that is fake or misleading should be unfollowed too. One way of being aware of them is by checking the same news on different media outlets and seeing which outlet gives an unbiased report on the same and following the unbiased source that provides facts instead of drama.

Personally, one of the few pages I like on Instagram is titled @aplasticplant. It is a page that shares positive images and messages related to pop culture and fashion and makes me feel interested. It also keeps my creativity alive.

Keeping a set time for scrolling on social media:

The constant scrolling on social media mindlessly can lead people to procrastinate and avoid important tasks that they have been assigned, hence it is important to make sure that we should not just keep scrolling upwards on TikTok or Instagram to get our dopamine from a 30-second clip.

Instead we should complete our tasks at hand and get the feeling of satisfaction from the dopamine release then. In my experience, spending two hours per day is more than enough on social media apps now that we technically live online due to the pandemic. 

Not indulging in comment sections:

The comment sections on various apps can prove to be either side of a coin — they can be positive and mostly negative too. On certain sensitive posts, many people indulge in online arguments which are very public and at times may prove bad for someone’s mental health as the person on the other side of the screen can hurt someone with words.

Hence, I feel that even if we do indulge in comments it should be a section filled with positivity and happiness. A troll is an internet slang for someone who intentionally tries to create conflict or arguments on an online platform. We should do our best to not become a troll and neither instigate one. 

Keeping distance from “online friends” or strangers:

In our world today most friendships are made online especially since the beginning of the pandemic. For example, people are friends with other people who live halfway across the world and are as close to them as real friends, however, not all of them would be good.

We need to identify people and stay wary of them if we haven’t seen them in person. “Catfishing” is a term used for people online proving to be others which is still prevalent, so we should be diligent not to share sensitive information with them as the person across from our screens could be a criminal for all we know. 

Beware of online monetary scams or bots:

Monetary scams have been prevalent in our world way before social media but as technology grew, so did the scams. They have also advanced onto social media apps where people pose to sell items or pay money and instead can hack the account and gain sensitive information.

Falling into such a trap is risky and we all should be on the lookout for it. Phishing is a good example of it. We may receive emails about job offers or Instagram Direct Messages about people contacting us for a job however we should only respond to them if they seem legitimate and if others apart from you know them. A quick Google search should do the trick too.

I would like to quote the bio of the page “aplasticpplant” to conclude this article — “if you ever feel useless, remember you breathe out carbon dioxide for plants :).” 

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