Psychologist Brent MacDonald joined Global Calgary on Monday to discuss the issue of social media stress and how to fight it.
“It’s one of those things that becomes so automatic to us that we don’t recognize how much time it takes from us and how much weight we put on it,” he said.
MacDonald suggested social media impacts people in two main ways:
“The amount of time it takes away from other activities we could be doing, and how much weight we put on it.”
“The value that we put on those ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ is pretty intense.”
“It becomes very overwhelming, but very gradually, so we don’t really recognize that it’s happening until it’s become a pretty significant stressor.”
Signs of social media stress
MacDonald suggested it’s important to be conscious of how your social media accounts make you feel.
“If it’s affecting our work, if it’s affecting our self-esteem, if it’s affecting our self-worth – then I think we have to be really cautious.”
“We do get caught up in this idea of using social media as a means of enhancing self-esteem,” he added. “What the research is starting to show … is that people with lower self-esteem tend to put more weight on the postings that they put forward.”
“What happens is, if they post a photo and it’s not ‘liked’ as much as they’re hoping, or not commented upon, they take that as a very significant hit,” he said. “Whereas, if they get even a [single] ‘like’ or a slightly positive comment, then that carries more weight.”
Victims of social media stress
If you feel like your social media accounts are dragging you down, you’re not alone.
Singer and actress Selena Gomez recently revealed in an interview with Vogue that she had deleted Instagam off her phone and no longer has the password of her account, which is now handled by her assistant.
“As soon as I became the most followed person on Instagram, I sort of freaked out,” she said. “It had become so consuming to me. It’s what I woke up to and went to sleep to.”
“I was an addict, and it felt like I was seeing things I didn’t want to see, like it was putting things in my head that I didn’t want to care about.”
“I always end up feeling like s**t when I look at Instagram,” she added.
How to solve social media stress
MacDonald suggests limiting how often you check your social media accounts.
“With Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram – those types of things – you’re constantly getting these notifications,” he explained. “Maybe put some boundaries around checking once or twice a day as opposed to constantly checking.”
He said it’s important to evaluate if your social media accounts are bringing you any joy or pleasure. If it’s not, it might be time to take a break from them.
Watch below: For many people, social media allows them to stay connected to friends and family but it can also be a source of stress. Emily Mertz reports on how to recognize the signs.