Something that I always read about is how depressed or anxious teenagers are becoming nowadays and how everyone is blaming social media.
Folks from the older generation often remind teenagers how soft they thought they were and how in their time there was no time to feel depressed or anxious.
Teenagers on the other hand blame social media. Teenagers and young adults in 2020 are blaming social media and how it has influenced and shaped people to become more self consious.
The reasoning is that social media is making people addicted to showing off all their success. This pushes others to show off their success and so on. No one shows the true reality of what’s behind the camera lens, all we see are filtered fake smiles and hundreds of shopping bags.
This made me wonder, is social media really the reason behind all these mental illnesses? I think not. Here are my reasons
Social media is a tool
My first reason why I don’t think social media is bad for us is because social media is just a tool. Yes, it has smart algorithms and softwares that make you want to stay longer and be addicted to it, but it’s still just a tool.
It’s like fast-food. Fast food doesn’t make you gain weight, over consuming it does.
I think the line has blurred between us taking responsibility for our own actions, and pushing the responsibility on someone else.
To simplify things, I think there are different types of people who use social media.
Person 1 is the type of person who is so easily influenced by their environment. They choose to follow people who they think are better looking than the, richer than them, more successful than them. They choose to have these types of people around them, follow them, and allow them to affect their lives. They allow for these fake pictures to consume their being.
Now, person 2 who is the type of person who doesn’t care much about other people. They are not as severely affected by others’ lives and don’t care much about how they are doing. This type of individual self regulates and is not affected by their environment as much. They might feel a tingle of jealousy here and there but nothing too serious.
Now, when considering these two extremes, even if we take away social media it will not help them change their very character. Person 1 will still see people on the streets, billboards, in movies and constantly compare themselves to these individuals. While person 2 might keep not really being affected by those surrounding them.
At the end of the day, social media is just a tool. I think it actually helps reflect a more intensified version of the person using the tool.
Mental health predates 2020
The second problem I have with people blaming social media for their mental issues is that mental health predates 2020.
Social media really started to take off around the mid-2000s. Before social media, people were still depressed, anxious, and still struggled with all other mental health problems.
Social media couldn’t have caused mental health issues, since these problems already existed before the internet as a whole.
It simplifies things too much
Blaming social media for mental health issues, I think, simplifies matters too much. It simplifies mental health problems and how they occur, it simplifies human nature, it simplifies how social media itself works.
Depression for example has neural basis where a portion of your left pre-frontal cortex does not engage with your brain. This is one small example of how depression is not at all connected to outside forces, however it is physically inside your brain.
Also, going back to my first point. If someone is constantly comparing themselves to people on social media, they’ll do that without the presence of social media too. They will not be forced to stop comparing themselves because the platform no longer exists.
I think social media is more of a symptom of the bigger problem than the actual cause.