The Effects of Technology and Social Media on Relationships, Time, and our Mental Health
In today’s world, we are constantly interrupted by technology notifications. We have our cell phones, email, text, Facebook, Instagram, etc. How can our mental health, relationships, and time not be affected by constant interruptions?
When was the last time you had a conversation with someone, and you did not touch your phone once? You may be getting defensive, “Well I do this often.” Really? You have had a conversation with someone and not picked up your phone to see what that text, email, or even that social media notification said.
It consumes us, and though we don’t want to see it, the creators of these media sites as well as the technology makers are sure to create an algorithm for us to become dependent on these platforms and devices.
In the last year, I got rid of my social media pages, and I noticed a few things. First, people were baffled by why I would do such a thing and questioned my decision often. When I explained to them it was consuming my time, crippling my ability to be intentional in relationships and to be initiative-taking with goals, and finally last but not least, it was creating negativity in my mind.
I would hear people respond with, “Oh, well it doesn’t affect me.” I held back the words that were playing in my head, “It can’t not affect you.” I did not want to pull the therapist card and tell them how negative social media can be. They weren’t ready to hear it, nor did they want to see it.
Second, once I deleted my accounts, I noticed I would continually pick up my phone (an alarming amount more than I thought) to check that social media page. It was a habit. I was like a robot who had been trained to go into auto pilot when things got quiet, when I got bored and when I wanted to be distracted by something other than what was around me.
The problem with this is I was being avoidant. I was disengaging from potential conversations and opportunities for growth around me in my relationships that were face-to-face. I was wasting my time doing nothing but scrolling, escaping, and comparing my life to others. It is easy when you are completely satisfied with everything in your life to look at other people’s social media lives and not have any jealousy or need to have something different than what you have.
But when is there ever a time in our lives where everything is good in every area? Just think – we are surrounded by hundreds of “friends” on social media. The number of materialistic objects, romantic lovey-dovey brags about spouses, and glamorous vacations we see in one of our newsfeed scrolls is unfathomable. What does that do to us?
The constant ability to check in and to see what others are doing and feel like we know them, and their lives takes away the need for us to connect with them and ask them what is going on in their lives in person divides us. Instead, we continue posting our lives to share with others and obsessively check to see what others think about what we did. Why do we care what social media friends think about what we did? What did we think about it? That is what matters.
I am fearful for our future. If we continue to be so obsessively dependent on our devices and thrive on hiding behind our screens, what will this do to our future generations? Our relationships and our worth as people?
Think of all the time we would have to engage with others, work on ourselves and see the world if we weren’t hiding on our social media pages. People often wonder why anxiety and depression are at an all-time high.
“Since the release of smartphones, mental health concerns have increased in children and young adults. The rate of adolescents reporting symptoms of major depression in a given year increased by 52% from 2005 to 2017. From 2009 to 2017, it grew by 63% in adults ages 18 to 25. Experiencing psychological distress in a given month grew 71% in young adults from 2008 to 2017. Even worse, the rate of suicidal thoughts in young adults increased 47% during that same time.”
These are alarming numbers. Now I would be biased if I did not acknowledge that there are positives to social media but how often do we maintain only positivity by using social media platforms?
I have seen many teens who have been bullied by peers on these social media pages. They are blasted and whoever has an account can see it. I have seen young adults compare their relationships to others they see online, and they are just not happy in theirs because other people have something better.
We are living in a façade, building an image we want others to believe about us and our experiences. Yet we don’t see others posts as the same – we accept them as factual and genuine. This is dangerous.
Now do not get me wrong. I am not asking you to delete your accounts and throw away your smartphones at the end of this article. What I do hope is that you genuinely examine the control these objects have over you, and you examine how you think and how you spend your time because of them.
I hope you develop the ability to be genuine in the world and accept you for you and stop pretending that every experience is sunshine and rainbows on social media. I pray that you will see that every image that is posted is not genuine, and you stop comparing things in your life to others’ fake worlds created with a simple post.
I pray you are more present in every relationship, and that you continue asking questions to keep you connected even though you feel you saw their life already on Facebook. I pray that you recognize your worth and find it in your Creator. I also pray you do not feel isolated or alone and know that if you are struggling to believe in yourself, know your worth, or are experiencing anxiety, you reach out to a trained professional.
To find a counselor in the Washington area please visit our site: SeattleChristianCounseling.com and visit the counselor’s tab. There you will find all types of therapists to choose from, every single one of them is willing to walk with you on your journey of finding hope.
“Homework”, Courtesy of Collins Lesulie, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Social Media”, Courtesy of Georgia de Lotz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Texting”, Courtesy of Robin Worrall, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Social Media”, Courtesy of Marten Bjork, Unsplash.com, CC0 License