How long has it been since you checked your Facebook page or instagram account? If you’re like most people, you use social media many times throughout the day. If you’re like many people, you use social media as an escape. And if you’re like many of those people, there’s a good chance it’s ruining your chances of happiness.
While you may think social media is fun (or a must have to stay up to date with friends), studies have suggested that it can take a toll on your emotional state. One study by researchers at the University of Missouri focused on the effects of Facebook on mental health. They discovered of that regular use could lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggered feelings of envy in the-user.
Professor Margaret Duffy, a co-author of the research said about the findings, “If it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative affect.”
It is this constant measuring of ourselves against others that causes significant amounts of grief. I see it on an almost daily basis. Great people with much to offer feeling unworthy of happiness because they feel inferior to others. They walk into my office with what appears to be the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Much of this weight stems from not feeling as “good, smart, pretty, wealthy, or funny” as others.
Here are 5 signs that social media may be crippling your happiness
1. You Need Positive Feedback to Feel Good
Let’s face it, we all love feeing appreciated. It feels good to get that positive feedback when you post a photo or event from your life. But if you find you only have good days on days you’re getting positive feedback online, you may be depending on social media too much.
2. You’re an Instant Gratification Addict
We have become a society in need of instant gratification. While it’s okay to want instant connectivity and instant movie streaming, having a need to instantly feel worthy through social media is very harmful.
If the promise of instant gratification and validation is driving your desire to post or share bits of your life, you may have become too dependent.
3. You’re Reliving the Popularity Contests All Over Again
I find some of my adults clients care just as much about how many Facebook friends and likes as my teenage clients do. It’s as if they’re reliving the high school popularity contest all over again. At the end of the day, are all of those Facebook friends really your friends?
True happiness is having authentic connections with the loved ones in your life. If you’re paying too much attention to how many online friends you have and not enough attention to or whether or not your face-to-face relationships are healthy, you may have a problem.
The next time you find yourself on your social media sites feeling jealous, envious, or somehow less than the people on those pages, remember that people tend to present very biased accounts of their lives. They, like you, want to measure up to the rest of the world.
Know that every human being is essentially struggling to feel worthy of being alive. It’s something we all seem to have in common. Instead of trying to be better than each other, focus on having more compassion for each other. Try it for a while and see if you notice a change.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.