Social networks are currently the main protagonists of everything that happens in the world. A topic is more relevant the more it is commented on on Twitter , each television program offers you to comment on it through a hashtag, the Instagram posts of famous personalities are news, and even governments make official statements on social networks. In addition, they have their positive points: they allow us to communicate with people we cannot see on a daily basis, we reconnect lost contacts, we meet new people with common interests , and they also encourage us to express our creativity.

However, not a few people decide to do without social networks. People who, tired of getting angry with their family and friends, decide to close their Facebook account , or decide to do the same on Twitter because they only find insults. This is because our behavior with regard to social networks contains quite a few negative points. The platforms are there, and they are not bad per se . But we people turn them into quite negative spaces, and this affects our emotions and even our mental health in general. These are some of the most negative effects that social networks have on our lives.

1. They are full of hostile messages that affect us

This idea is well known all over the world. It is normal that there are ideas that annoy and irritate people, and we think that we have no other way to express it than social networks. As a large percentage of the population of your country has Twitter, we send our messages of irritation because it seems that in this way, knowing that a social or political situation or the behavior of other people is annoying, we can make it change. But it is not like that, and the consequence is that there are other people who think differently from us, and because of that same frustration, they start to discuss it, entering a mutual attack loop .

In networks such as Twitter, we use anonymity to issue messages and behaviors that we would not dare face to face. We would have to think, why in that case we would not do it? Would we be afraid to offend or harm the other person? Are we just ashamed to go beyond the barrier of talking to a stranger? Would we be afraid of being treated badly or attacked? What would you feel if they said the same to you? We would realize that people are not insulting each other on the street for a reason, and that in social networks it is not “logical” to do so either.

The effect that this hostile environment has is that it generates a bad mood, irritability , and could cause us to transmit these feelings to the people around us.

2. We compare ourselves with others and we get frustrated

Our dream vacations, a dinner in a good restaurant, a party in a nightclub where we are having a good time, our dear family, the new clothes that we have bought , the change of look that we have done … It is clear that we we like to show the most “salable” side of our life, which makes us proud, but always in the face of what others will think. This makes our friends or followers tend to think that other people have better lives than theirs. You always have to keep in mind: and what do I consider to have a better life?But we cannot forget that we live in a consumerist society, where we are what we buy, see, read, wear and eat, so it is easy to fall into the idea that if we do not have as much as the other person, or we do not live as many experiences, we are really failing in some way.

This generates feelings of isolation, failure and frustration , and more seriously, it can lead to depressive states, as some studies have determined. We don’t have enough friends, we don’t go out enough, we don’t have fashionable clothes, we don’t travel, we don’t have an ideal family, we don’t have a good job … Isn’t it a coincidence that it happens to all of us?

3. They reinforce the myths around body image

The philosophy of body positive is very widespread, and it is thanks to social networks that the message reaches further and faster. But it is not the only message that is transmitted, because at the same time famous people whose aesthetics are very important in their careers, have more opportunities to promote their image. The ideal body, the ideal weight, the ideal hair, the ideal skin, the ideal clothes, the ideal face … This has not disappeared, but has found a greater stage to send us those messagesthat our body, whatever it may be, will never come close to perfection. It is a showcase of guilt, because in addition to not being a “pretty” person or “with a slim body” or “a muscular body”, we are not doing “enough” (eating certain foods, going to the gym, not buying certain products) to fix it.

What this phenomenon leads to is having a higher risk of developing eating disorders, self-injurious behaviors, anxiety and depression.

4. They distract us from the real world

We can be tired and tired of hearing that “put your cell phone down”, “you’re not listening to me”, or “don’t take your cell phone out at the table”. But it is true that social networks and chat platforms are not made for immediacy. By talking to a friend, taking photos of what we are eating, replying to a tweet, or recording a story, we are losing the importance of face-to-face contact.

In addition to this, we tend to blur the relevance of different social relationships , perhaps placing greater emphasis on people who are not so close, and taking away the attention of those who need us. It is not strange that it provokes arguments between us.

5. They generate compulsive behaviors

By actively participating in social networks we do not have to develop an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. However, we do tend to normalize similar behaviors, and if we do not learn to control them, we have a greater risk that they will begin to dominate us. With social networks, we can fall into the need for immediacy : respond now, share this now, respond now, etc. Have you ever seen notifications and couldn’t resist seeing what it was? 10 notifications on Twitter? Which may be? Who has liked my last Instagram photo? Does someone speak to me on Messenger? I’m going to look at all of them and so the mobile is clean of notices.

This would be linked to the previous point, it makes us take our attention away from the current moment, at work, being with a family member, having coffee with a friend, etc. It is useful to learn to postpone checking the notifications , it trains us in self-control and teaches us to dominate the situation ourselves.

6. They are used as means of harassment: cyberbullying

This is one of the most directly damaging effects of social media. Just as they are a new and more widespread scenario of promoting a particular body or aesthetic model, they are also a new source of harm for bullies . The most serious point is in adolescence and cyberbullying , and it is that classmates or the neighborhood can use this way to insult, threaten or humiliate the victims of bullying . In addition, its messages can spread throughout the educational center, and even beyond, and among children and adolescents it causes serious damage to self-esteem and self-concept, increasing children’s fear of being humiliated or attacked, generates anxiety, isolation, depression, suicidal ideations, as well as difficulties in establishing social relationships now and in the future.

Harassment is also generated among adults on the networks. The messages of hostility that we saw in point 1 sometimes turn into mass attacks on a single person, usually public . We forget that being a Twitter or Instagram account, and since it is a known person, the effects of harassment are exactly the same as if they did it to us. We must not forget that public figures “do not belong to us” in some way, we do not have the right to tell them anything personal, and they have not “asked for it” because of their social position. The effects also go through social isolation, as well as anxiety, depression or suicidal ideation.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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