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The Psychological Effects of Getting Addicted to Social Media

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Social Media or Social Networks! We’ve all been there; done these or that one way or the other.

So we understand the kind of pressure you go through on social media. We understand how hard you try to beat up your brain to come up with something interesting to fill in the “what’s on your mind” box. We also understand how dispiriting it can get when your post ends up with zero likes, no retweets, and tear-jerking comments.

social-media-addictionOn the good side, we know how the social media has made it easier for you to keep track of your friends, foes, and frenemies. No one needs to remind us about the trivialities brought about by the technology. For example, the number of relationships started on the platform.

But what if someone told you that the social media does you more harm than good, would you have the chutzpah to go cold turkey on it?

Well, not long ago the University of Michigan conducted a study to look at the various psychological effects of too much social media. And here are some of the upshots they came up with:

Smiling Depression

Smiling depression is a newly coined phrase that describes the act of being depressed without showing it on your face. Deep down you’re downhearted, but all your face is showing is an exultant mask.

According to Carl Rogers, our personality encompasses two things—our self-image and ideal-image. While our self-image is the real picture of our current situation–with our troubles and struggles included, ideal image is the mental picture we create for other people to see. In the virtual world, it’s the cyber image we try so hard to protect and maintain.

And while the two are supposed to be kept in check to create balance and harmony in our lives, the social media has a way of creating inconsistency in the way we observe our self-image and cyber-self. Our desire to always be seen positive has taught us to suppress our troubles, thus leading a life of self-deceit.

We no longer express our inner turmoil, lest it feels like we’re trying to accept social defeat. In the wake of which, we end up putting too much focus on our virtual life, which mostly revolves around impressing the meaningless connections we’ve created on the social media and labeled “friends,” while neglecting our self-image which in actuality matters most.

Virtual Empathy

So one of your masochist Facebook friends makes a post yakking about how they had a bad day at work or how they lost someone close or got jilted by someone they’ve been seeing, and you reply with an assuring comment. That’s what we call virtual empathy.

But does it in any way translate to real-life empathy? If it does, do the comments really assuage the torments? Well, while some preliminary research say “yes,” some scientists link virtual empathy with the increased cases of masochism and self-pity.

Self-admiration

The social media has been linked with a healthy dose of self-admiration. As published in the study, “Facebook is like a mirror while twitter is the megaphone.”

The study goes on to say that Twitter is a good platform for airing your views and opinions if you’re a young adult who loves yourself to the hilt or wish to give your self-confidence the much-needed shot in the arm.

As for Facebook, the platform has been found to be more ideal to the middle-aged adults, most of whom have the proclivity of forming and presenting the portfolio of their life choices after calibrating them in a way they feel their social circles would approve.

In conclusion, we can say that a moderate use of the social media and for the right purpose arrives with a fair dose of incentives. But to realize them, you have to learn to strike a balance between your self-image and the image you create on social media.

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