Some people become addicted to scrolling through social networks just like a drug – a digital drug.
Social media acts as a reward system for the brain, which is why people tend to want more and more. Careful, though – the blame isn’t entirely on you, because social media is designed to make you want more. It creates the same type of chemical reaction in your brain as regular drugs; some people even compare it to hard drugs. It’s a huge influx of dopamine that can get you hooked.
The impact of all this varies from person to person, since not everyone’s experiences are the same. Whether social media has a positive or negative effect on your mental health depends on how you use it: the more someone is addicted to social media, the stronger the influence it will have on their life. And while we’re talking about social media for the purposes of this piece, the same goes for traditional media.
The questions you should be asking are: what does social media mean to you? Are you aware of how much you use it or has opening the app become a reflex? Do you feel like you are missing out if you don’t consume media? Like you would be lacking something? These thoughts apply to all types of media. How much information does your brain absorb every day? What are your limits regarding your consumption?
If you’re able to set limits for yourself, to have discipline when it comes to your social media consumption, you’ll significantly decrease the impact on your mental health. However, once a dependence takes hold, as is the case for drugs and other substances, possible negative effects and symptoms include feelings of isolation, feeling distant from reality and other people, and increased anxiety/depression. If you’re not aware of how your usage impacts yourself and those around you, the effects can be even more disastrous.
If you think your social media use is becoming problematic, EFAP is available to help 24/7. There is also a counseling service that exists to help with various dependencies and addictions called Wellness Together Canada: 1-888-417-2074.
Take care of yourself and never hesitate to reach out for help.
Here’s a very interesting quote from Denzel Washington about the media that accurately represents the role it plays in our society today (shared in a Washington Post article in 2020):
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do, you’re misinformed.”
“What is the long-term effect of too much information? One of these effects is the need to be first, not to be true anymore.”
“You have to tell the truth, not to be first.”