Why Social Media Makes us feel bad

Social media is both a blessing and a curse and has revolutionised the way that we interact with our environment and others. A side effect of social media is that it can bring out very negative emotions in those who use such sites excessively. Symptoms of excessive use include dissatisfaction with own life, jealousy, envy and insecurity. So how can we enjoy social media whilst keeping a firm grip on reality at the same time?


People don’t tend to post the bad

You might have a few whiny friends that you keep around for schadenfreude but generally people only post the best. They post their vacation photos, clubbing outfits, delicious food and relationship milestones. They don’t post the moments that are more inconsequential, trivial, boring or disheartening. Add filters and a snappy caption and social media doesn’t reflect the whole truth. Social media is a bit like an edited film; when you scroll through it, it seems seamless, but a living, beating life is ticking along underneath it. Perhaps your ex work colleague posted that photo of her looking gorgeous because she’s still hung up on an ex from years back. You never know the full story.  A picture can lie, especially in this age of digital doctoring.

The humble brag

One of the most hurtful behaviours on social media is the humble brag whereby a person congratulations themselves in a seemingly subtle way:

‘Oops, just spilt a $100,000 bottle of champagne on my new Gucci dress. That will be a nightmare to wash!’

You know the type of status we’re talking about…

The humble brag is pretty transparent. The best advice if a friend is smothering your social media with humble brags? Unfollow them!

Comparison is the thief of joy

When we compare our lives to others, we often feel miserable. We can always count ways in which we come up short. Life can be divided into compartments; relationship, friendships, appearance, money, leisure, job, education etc. We can all find things about own life’s that don’t seem up to standard. No-one has it all, all of the time! Also, we all go through life at a different speed. If you have dedicated years to your career, you may not have travelled extensively. If you have travelled the world, you may be starting from the bottom up when it comes to your career aspirations. We are all travelling through the world at a different pace. We truly are all on different journeys. Take inspiration and motivation from those who draw a reaction from you and ignore further comparisons. Focus on you on this present moment in time. If you feel repeated satisfaction, the issue is not social media but an area of your own life that feels stagnant or unrealised. In this way, social media can be a useful prompt but it’s still better to use this energy offline.

People live their lives ‘in front of the camera’ rather than ‘behind the scenes’

Back in the day, unless you bumped into someone or heard some gossip via the grapevine, you wouldn’t have a clue what most people were doing. You might wonder about it, but you’d be focusing more on your immediate reality. Also, way back when, people tended to follow a more linear path. More people left school, got married and had kids in that order. Of course there have always been people who’ve lived life differently but people felt more satisfied because there were limited options.

The world now is different, peppered with choice and new complications. Everything from the world of work to relationships is more up in the air. This means you need to be directly responsible for your life rather than letting it amble idly by. Clouding your mind by regularly checking on social media can distract us from thinking about our own life’s and instead get us to fixate on what others are doing, thinking, dressing like and so on. We often turn to social media when bored or lonely. Perhaps instead of turning to our phones, we could sit with our feelings and find a more active outlet; one that moves life onward. This is a more effective use of time.
Filtered Photos
On your bad days, looking at stunning photographs of friends can be a real buzz kill. In real life, people can't be filtered into fantasy or doctored into perfection. We are what we are. Remember that what you see on social media is often a far cry from the truth and that even the most beautiful have their bad days. Book yourself in for a pamper or a change of style and remember that true beauty can be cultivated away from the screen.