Social Media: Friend or Foe?
Okay, here’s the truth — I spend a lot of time on social media. Facebook is my portal to the world. It connects me with others, helps me feel less lonely. Sadly, statistics show that I’m not alone. According to a 2018 Cigna study, half of Americans feel lonely. Approximately 40% said they “lack companionship,” their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and that they feel “isolated from others.”How is this possible in a day and age where we’re constantly plugged in + connected? The reality is that we’re more disconnected than ever before in today’s high tech world.
Social Media Exacerbates Loneliness
I’ve struggled with loneliness for years. I wrote about it for HuffPost after Robin Williams’ untimely death. Now, we’re in the throes of a full-blown loneliness epidemic. It affects people of all ages — not just the elderly, which is the automatic assumption — and socio-economic backgrounds. The recent suicide deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade serve as a reminder: The rich and famous aren’t immune from mental health issues.
Research based on the UCLA Loneliness Scale pioneered by the University of California, Los Angeles, found that younger Americans are hit harder by loneliness. Researchers found that the generation born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s —”Z”— is coming to age now and feels lonely the most. Additionally, those respondents had an average loneliness score of 48.3, compared to the average score of 44 for all Americans. Millennials scored 45.3. but the Baby Boomers and Greatest Generation scored just below the American average at 42.4 and 38.6, respectively.
How Friendly is Facebook?
I wrote one of my first blog posts about Facebook. It’s a great platform, but not without problems. People tend to be a lot meaner behind a keyboard they they (hopefully) would be in face-to-face interaction. Consequently, bullying is a huge problem in our society. So, how friendly is Facebook? Well, it depends. It simply boils down to how we use social media. It can be as friendly as we make it. I’ve found lifelong friends online, however, true connections can be few and far between.
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Staying Sane on Social Media
There are things you can do to stay sane on social media. Here are some tips:
- Start your day practicing positive self-care before logging on to social media
- Limit your time surfing the net; apps can help you track how much time you spend online
- Turn off notifications so you aren’t distracted
- Don’t compare yourself to others — most of what people post is the best version of their life; a lot of it is smoke and mirrors
- Unfriend and/or block toxic people
- Remember that you’re in control of your life — not your computer or your phone