With over 400 million people using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and more, depression and anxiety appear to be on the rise. Is this a coincidence? In what some term as “Facebook Envy”, this seemingly harmless way to communicate with friends and family has demonstrated its effects on the self-esteem of many individuals.
The Effects of Facebook Envy
Facebook Envy is a phenomenon that is perhaps more apt to strike the young, but it also has effects across all age groups. That our human nature causes us to compare ourselves to others, how we are perceived on social media sites can have an effect on our self-esteem.
There are some who may need counseling and support when faced with the envy, anxiety, and depression that events on their social media sites can bring. For example, a recent study by Utah Valley University discovered that the more time people spent on Facebook, the worse they felt about the lives that they were leading.
For teenagers and young adults, the feelings of being left out can be as simple as seeing photographs of a party that they were not invited. Such a seemingly small event can have a powerful impact on self esteem, on how we think others view ourselves. Plus, the more time spent on Facebook checking out our friends and their “more interesting” lives can be a debilitating experience.
Even well adjusted adults can be affected by Facebook Envy if they see themselves trudging along through life while their friends are going places and doing things that they cannot do themselves. This effect is amplified by the additional time that is spent on social media sites as well. Feelings of discomfort, anxiety and even depression manifest themselves at a higher rate as more time is spent on social media sites.
The Power of Perspective
The negative effects on self esteem that social media can bring about can be addressed in part by putting websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and so forth into their proper perspective. For the most part, people post what they want on their social media pages which creates a different impression than reality.
In fact, these sites can be considered an alternate reality which does not exist in the real world. Such perspective is important for those who are currently facing feelings of depression, envy and anxiety. This is especially true because many people use websites such as Facebook to promote their efforts in helping their business or personnel achievements, such as selling a book or promoting something that they want to sell.
Keeping in perspective that social media does reflect real life in the sense that even this altered world can make you feel bad. The understanding that this is not real life, but instead a platform for allowing people to project what they want helps reign in the bad feelings that it may generate.