Young woman sadly looking at a tablet because social media affects us all.

It’s amazing how social media affects us every day. Unfortunately, it’s not always in a good way.

Because most social sites allow people to basically be anonymous, these individuals feel like they can say anything, no matter how nice or nasty. Just watch an episode of Jimmy Kimmel’s “Mean Tweets.” Famous people read real tweets that have been posted about them. Some of the things people say are truly horrible. They seem to take it in stride, but what is said can be extremely hurtful.

This nastiness is a form of bullying and can greatly affect people, especially young people. High school kids, and even smaller children, have committed suicide due to the public comments of their classmates. The comments are not even anonymous in many of those cases.

Too much time on screens

According to a 2019 study in JAMA Psychiatry, “Teens in the U.S. who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media may be at a heightened risk for mental health issues.”

Another troublesome area is body image. People who are famous for being famous, like the Kardashians, are known to have their images altered to look better on their social platforms. However, some people look at these images and their self-esteem tanks because they don’t think they can reach those ideals. It’s easy to get sucked in just by viewing social media for two minutes.

Some people post only the best things that happen to them (and leave out the mundane or bad things). They probably exaggerate how fantastic their lives are at the same time. People look at these posts and think of how boring or awful their own lives are. This can lead to depression or worse.

I just saw today on Facebook that the daughter of one of my high school friends lost her life to depression last week. I have to wonder if maybe part of this young woman’s depression could be from the constant deluge of images of people “living their best lives” on social media.

As I huge fan of the genre, this crushes me. I try to see all of the good social media can do.

Social media can do good

Another friend had a sad event of losing her home to a house fire. However, the good news is that her friends, and even friends of her friends, pitched in and made donations to help her family get back on their feet. They lost everything except their pets and the clothes on their backs. The fire was late at night so they left in pajamas and didn’t have anything else. The husband even left the house without shoes.

While the pettiness and spewing of hate continue, it’s beautiful when people can come together to help someone in need. I try to concentrate on those good things.

A year or so ago, there was a man who was turning 100. Someone had the brilliant idea of posting on social media about his birthday. They were hoping people would send this man cards. A local museum listed its address so they were not publishing the man’s home address. The post went viral. I sent a card wishing him a happy birthday. I hope he got a great response. It’s a very small thing that I did, but when it snowballs into thousands, or tens of thousands, of people sending cards it can be overwhelming in a great way.

So when you think about how social media affects us, consider both sides of the coin. Keep looking at the good things and try to ignore the hate and negative comments if you can.

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