Are you on social media? Be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Snapchat—how often do you check it? What was the purpose of you signing up for that social media platform? Each one can have a specific purpose, such as keeping in touch with family, networking, dating, blogging, or simply being nosey.
Whatever the reason, is it controlling how you feel? Do you feel encouraged, happy, or sad, or depressed? Studies have shown that social media can negatively impact on your mood and cause conditions such as depression. But how did we get here?
Social Media in the Beginning
My first social media account was AOL chat. I believe I just aged myself. It was before Wi-Fi. This was in the late 90s during the internet dial-up era. Next, I signed up with Black Planet. I signed up for AOL chat and Black Planet to meet and date men. A/S/L (age, sex, location) is the only acronym I remember and was the first line typed. Pictures were scanned and uploaded to the sites with a scanner. Black Planet let you add graphics and music to your page. There wasn’t too much interaction amongst friends. It was more one-on-one. My, my, how times have changed.
The New Millennium
About ten years later, I was introduced to Facebook. My purpose was only to look at the pictures that were taken at our 20-year high school class reunion. I wasn’t into all of the social media hype at that time, but I signed up anyway so I could see our pictures.
Then I connected with classmates, childhood friends, family from my mom’s and dad’s sides, and former co-workers. I was so excited because I’m that one that says, “Keep in touch,” but would really make no effort to do so. I mean, come on, that’s a lot of people to keep in touch with! Facebook was a great way to see what people were up to after all these years of no communication. It was a way to let all in your circle know what was going on with you and share pictures. No need to make numerous phone calls or print and send pictures. What a concept.
But I loved it! Friends would make a post and you could choose to comment on the post. It could be a feeling, question, suggestion, or just letting the world know what was going on with you at that time. It was fun to have a conversation amongst your peers and sometimes with strangers. A lot of Facebook “clowns” to keep you laughing, some inspiration, the attention seekers and then the negative people.
And Then…Social Media Evolved
As more people signed up on social media (including entertainers, sports figures and politicians), the desire to follow them and add more details of what is going on in your life increased.
According to a study conducted at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, Inc., people who used social media the most were about 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than participants who used social media the least. Why? The following four culprits were to blame:
- More time spent online instead of out in the real world
- FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
- Digital Relationships
One thing the study did not mention is the opinions, statements, and news that can negatively flood a person’s social media feed. For some reason, people get drawn into the endless scroll and can’t stop looking.
In 2020, coronavirus and civil unrest took over social media, and I noticed how some people became depressed because of what was going on in the world. Even doctors who were working with COVID patients were killing themselves because of depression.
Minimize the Negative Effects of Social Media
Given this study, it may be worth your while to limit your time on social media and take some precautions. Here are three steps you can take to minimize the negative effects of social media.
- Limit the time you spend on social media. Replace the time with something that will stimulate your mind, body, and soul. Research how to start a business. Focus on living a healthy lifestyle, reading books, learning another language—something that’ll make you grow. Channel the energy with positive vibes.
- FOMO – Use that as a push to pursue your goals, to take the vacations, to get married and make your own good times! Remember this: everything you see on social media isn’t real. It may be the only thing that is making that person whole. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. You never know what is going on in a person’s life to live the lifestyle they are portraying. Also, don’t be envious; just be happy for them. You will see all of the good and very little of the bad on social media.
- Cyberbullying – Think of it this way: there is a reason someone is “coming at you.” They see you growing and are jealous of your achievement. Instead of congratulating you or asking for advice or mentoring on how you succeeded, they choose to humiliate you and make you feel bad. Take the bullying as a compliment and keep it moving.
In conclusion, unless you’re getting paid to be on social media to post, promote, or review products, limit the time and energy you put into it. Don’t get caught up in the negative vibes.
Focus on yourself. Don’t get lost or caught up in other people’s business.
Stay focused on your goals, your peace, and your happiness.
Don’t waste your time on anything that doesn’t contribute to your growth.
Connie is a contract compliance professional in the transportation industry. She has also been an entrepreneur for the past 13 years in the fields of tax preparation, insurance inspection and contract compliance administration. Connie began her corporate career in her early twenties, and she was always that one Black person in the department. This drove her to always do her best on every assignment and to confidently take on additional responsibility without hesitation. As the Chair of Hey Queen Hey and an active member in TRKBG, Connie encourages others to exude confidence in all that they do. Connie expects members to wake up with a positive attitude and ready to accept any challenge that may arise. Connie attended Regis University where she earned a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting and Morgan State University (Business Professional Studies) where she obtained a certification in Contract Compliance Administration. Connie’s motto is: “If you have a problem, don’t complain about it without presenting a solution.”