One important aspect of social media is the effect it can have on mental health.
Surveys are finding that social media can have a negative impact on people’s mental state.
The highs of positive interaction and the lows of negative interaction seem to be difficult to deal with. The swings too much for many people.
That survey above found that Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and a few others have negative impact. YouTube was one of the most positive networks.
The fact that Instagram led the pack in negativity was interesting to me. I have heard more than one person say that if they could only have one social app on their phone it would be Instagram because it felt like it was the most positive.
But whatever the app is there are chances for negativity. And how you deal with that negative social media interaction could affect your mental health and your willingness to continue to use it and see the positives that also come from using it.
A Story Of Shaming
When I was a freshman in college in the spring of 2004, I opened my email one morning and a compromising image of another student was there. It was being forwarded throughout campus.
The poor girl was devastated. I believe she eventually left campus.
Obviously bullying, shaming and all those negative things had been around before the Internet, but this was a moment that left a mark with me. When social media came around a few years later it was obvious that it would lead to more negativity.
I don’t know if there are right and wrong ways to deal with it, but here are a few of my thoughts.
This has been the one to work best for me over the years. It’s definitely not easy, but the more you ignore negativity the easier it becomes. But you’ll never fully lose the urge to punch back at someone that makes a nasty comment or that rips on something you’ve shared.
The game at play here is taking stock in what others say about you and what you feel about yourself.
A big lesson in life is that everyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter.
The only one that matters is your own. if you feel that what you’re doing is good intentioned then that’s all you need. That’s all you need to keep creating and to keep contributing to social media.
It’s been said enough that it’s cliche at this point, but negative people on social media have the goal of getting attention. They crave some kind of attention so much so that they’re willing to do anything to get it. Just about the last effort is negativity.
You don’t have to engage with a negative person on social media to empathize with their situation.
Let’s say someone calls your content idiotic. Or maybe they talk about your looks or the way you talk or whatever. I’m not saying that you need to respond with something like, “I feel sorry for you.”
What I am saying is that it is positive to think about the person’s situation. Sometimes when I’ve received negative comments I’ve looked at the person’s profile. I’ve maybe googled them and tried to learn what their situation is.
Maybe I’ll even look at other comments they’ve left for others on social media. I try to figure out what their worldview is and what’s going on in their life.
I won’t interact, but I’ll try to empathize with their live. Just going through that process, even if just for a minute, settles my mind and lets the negativity pass.
Early on in the days of blogging and social media I read something that made a lot of sense. The basic context was that your blog, website or social profile are like your home. You can invite others in, but you also have the power to kick others out. And you don’t have to feel bad about it.
Imagine if you’re having a house party with the entire neighborhood. You open your home and everything is going great. You’re having great conversations. You’re getting to know people more. it’s all good.
But the one neighbor comes in and starts disrupting things. They’re making inappropriate comments. They’re making others feel uncomfortable and just bringing negative energy to your house.
In that situation most of us would ask that person to leave. If they didn’t leave we would escort them out or be forced to call the authorities to remove the person.
Social media is much the same way. You can block someone out of your interactions. Obviously they still might be able to find some ways to come back at you, but if you’re ignoring their interactions hopefully they’ll lose interest at some point.
It’s another cliche thought, but it really seems that most social media interaction is positive. Social media is really a reflection of real life interaction. Most people have good hearts and want to treat others as they would like to be treated.
But one bad apple can ruin the entire bunch. In real life you could have 100 great interactions with people. At Starbucks in the morning. At work throughout the day. Then on the way home someone could cut you off and give you the finger and it ruins your entire mood for the day. It sticks with you.
The challenge is keeping things in perspective. Most interactions are positive. Even on social media. You can control what you control. Those tips are above. And the final one is knowing that you can focus on the positives while pushing out the overly negative ones.