Jul 6, 2023

Opinion: The Social Media Blame Game

Taking a Balanced View of Social Media's Impact on Society

I received a text not too long ago of an article titled: Social Media Killing the Minds of the Young and Destroying Mental Health.

I rolled my eyes; social media is affecting our mental health... this just in: Pope Francis has confirmed he is Catholic. I read this article talking about the addictive qualities of social media, violent content on social media, images that cause body dysmorphia, and so on... but what we are not talking about are the underlying causes of what drives people to sit in a dark room and scroll on their phones for hours on end.

I want to think more critically here.

When we talk about drug addiction, we don't just blame the drug itself for the cause of the addiction. We also assess underlying causes that drive a person to drugs, like family genetics, mental health disorders, difficult circumstances, etc.

There is nuance.

So when we look at the question: is everyone so depressed from social media?

It's a 'yes and' statement.


…Social media is addictive. Social media engineers for years have teamed with neuroscientists to flood your brain with serotonin and adrenaline when you open social media. More people are addicted; addiction is not good for one's well-being, true.


...What else, what is the underlying cause? There are many, but one reason social media is making us depressed is because we (in the Western world) live in an isolated, individualistic society. We spend so much time alone, not living in communities or multi-generational households, often working from home. We live in a world that is returning from a debilitating time of isolation, sickness, and depression. Covid left us awkwardly standing in line at the grocery store and terrified to go to parties; everyone has social anxiety to some extent, and we are so isolated that we believe we're the only ones experiencing it. The reason that causes a person to spend hours online alone in a dark room, it's because that's where their friends are, or how it appears to the subconscious.

So we continue to stay glued to the phone as a means of comfort; this makes us addicted and thus depressed.

Is it still fully social media's fault? No, but social media still proves to be addictive and can lead to mental health problems.

So what's the solution?

Let's look to the past: Did you know the seat belt was implemented in 1959, 60 years after the creation of cars?

What does that have to do with social media?

It's a parallel; for years, society had new technology and did not run the risks of what could go wrong, and many people suffered the consequence. Then people got a clue and adopted new technology. Right now, we are blazing down the freeway at 75 mph with no seat belt when it comes to social media, and we crash, we get depressed, or our lives get affected.

We need to learn how to protect ourselves from the risks. We know the risks of social media can affect our mental health negatively, so we need to start adding boundaries to how we use it.

The seat belt is Conscious Consumption.

As a culture, we have grown accustomed to using social media in a zombie-like fashion. We mindlessly follow accounts that cause us to feel bad about our timelines, bodies, and bank account statements. We allow people who have caused us certain traumas to follow our happiest moments. Then we get nauseous as we scroll Instagram to find their picture pop out at us like a snake in the grass. We allow ourselves to stop caring about how much time we spend and then spend too much time caring about our every move online.

Conscious Consuming means we decide to control our social media, who we follow, what we follow, who we allow to follow us, and how much time we spend at the service of our well-being. We set limitations and take accountability to prioritize our mental health. Here are a few tips to practice conscious consumption and regain control over our social media usage:

1. Evaluate your social media environment: Take a moment to reflect on the accounts you follow and the content you consume. Ask yourself if they bring value to your life, inspire or uplift your mood. Unfollow accounts that consistently make you feel negative emotions or trigger comparison.

2. Set time limits: Determine how much time you want to dedicate to social media daily and stick to it. Many smartphones offer built-in features that allow you to set screen time limits or receive reminders when you've exceeded your allocated time. It's important to prioritize offline activities and human connections over endless scrolling.

3. Create a positive feed: Curate your social media feed to include accounts that promote positivity, personal growth, and mental well-being. Follow pages that align with your interests, hobbies, or aspirations. Surrounding yourself with uplifting content can significantly impact your overall mood and mindset.

4. Engage mindfully: Instead of mindlessly scrolling, consciously engage with the content that truly resonates with you. Leave meaningful comments, start conversations, and build connections with like-minded individuals. Remember, if we use it intentionally, social media can be a platform for genuine interaction and support.

5. Take regular breaks: Give yourself frequent breaks from social media to recharge and rejuvenate. Dedicate specific periods each day or week to disconnect completely. Use this time to engage in activities that bring you joy, such as reading, exercising, or spending quality time with loved ones.

By implementing these tips, we can regain control over our social media experience and prioritize our mental well-being. Remember, social media is a tool that can be used positively when approached consciously. Let's embrace the power to shape our online environment and use it for inspiration, connection, and personal growth.

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