They call it social media. It’s supposed to be a fun place to hang out. I don’t know if it’s just me but I often end up slightly depressed when I go on Instagram or Facebook. So is social media bad for you?
In fact I don’t use Instagram now and obviously I could delete my Facebook account but I don’t really want to. It’s good for keeping up with distant friends’ news.
So why does Facebook sometimes make us sad? Well it encourages a comparison of lifestyles that is not always healthy. It can seem like everyone has an idyllic, stress free life of luxury in the place of their dreams.
If you are busting a gut working hard, juggling childcare, a job and family concerns it can make you feel like a failure.
Is social media bad for mental health?
Well yes and no. It all depends on how you react to what you see. There is definitely research that shows that young people in particular are affected by trying to fit in with and aspire to others online. (In fact recently Prince Harry has weighed in to highlight even more issues and claims that social media companies have contributed to a culture that promotes hate.)
Comparisons are odious
Why are those people living in a luxury home, driving a flash car and travelling the world? They share pictures of themselves sitting on a beach “working” on a laptop while money appears like magic in their bank accounts.
It’s easy to feel a bit down about your own achievements and regard your life as a letdown.
Don’t do that. Instead use it as motivation.
What you don’t see when you look at their success is what they did to get there. You just see the lifestyle. What you don’t see is what it took to earn that lifestyle.
You see an entrepreneur on a beach with a laptop by their side. They may have worked late in to the nights writing blog posts, building websites for others, selling their time on sites like Fiverr for minimal payments. Probably they were doing the most menial technical tasks and answering customer emails before they could afford to hire anyone to help.
These people assigned priorities to building a business. They didn’t spend their evenings watching the latest soap episode. Maybe they hardly saw their family after dinner.
Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to work 16 hours a day and destroy your relationships. That would not lead to a happy or successful life. You don’t want to burnout chasing your dream.
But when you look at your own lifestyle are you really committed to your goals? Could you miss that latest Netflix series. How about getting up one hour earlier to work on your business or fitness.
Don’t give up too soon
Perhaps you have bought a program or a software in the past that you haven’t really given enough time to for it to work. Did you give up when it didn’t bring instant results? If you believe the sales copy for many products you may expect push button profits. That’s not realistic.
What should you do? Stop comparing yourself to others. One of my mantras is
“Don’t worry about being better than others, just strive to be better than your previous self”
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself – how far have you come since you started? Learn to celebrate your small successes. If you started off as a complete newbie online think about what you can now do. Have you mastered wordpress, set up a blog, made money through affiliate marketing? You may even have used social media to your advantage and mastered Facebook ads. Or have you learned how to drive traffic using other methods also.
The next time you see someone living an amazing life… think about what it took for them to get there. If it’s something you would feel good doing and would help you reach your own goals… feel inspired.
If you suspect it’s something that will hold you back, (like a huge monthly payment for something you don’t need right now), learn to say no. Don’t fall in to the trap of thinking you just need one more course or one more shiny object to break through.
You probably already know what you need to do. Just get on with it, focus and commit to sustained action. Social media is bad for you only if you use it to judge yourself against others. Better to use if for inspiration and motivation. And when you achieve great success try not to gloat too much with pictures of your lavish lifestyle. Help others to follow in your success.