Does social media really make us unhappy?

Does social media really make us unhappy?

Hi friends, it’s been a while. Thanks to the ongoing saga that is my health (you’ve got to laugh or you’ll cry) I’ve been taking some time away from the blog for a bit of R+R.

A big part of this was having a break from social media. After all, studies have shown time and time again that the likes of Facebook and Instagram make us unhappy – not helpful when I was already feeling rubbish. But this break got me thinking: does social media really make us unhappy, or is it something else?

Blogger Twenty-Something City in rainbow dress in Manchester by green door

‘FOMO’, or ‘fear of missing out’, is considered to be the main downside of social media. Whether that’s seeing that your friends are out without you, or that someone you went to school with just got promoted/ engaged/ another milestone achievement while you’re sat binging friends alone (again) can be crushing.

FOMO has been hitting me hard lately. As I’ve sat unable to leave my house, watching days pass me by and feeling like I was losing out on so many opportunities, I found I couldn’t cope with what I was seeing on social media. My blogger pals looking gorgeous in outfit photos when I couldn’t even face showering; my Twitter feed filling up with blog posts titled things like ‘how to be successful’ when my biggest achievement for the day was getting out of bed; Facebook groups dedicated to goal setting reminded me that my goals remained out of reach.

Blogger Twenty-Something City in bright rainbow stripe dress and tassel earrings

Recently social media has left me resenting my friends and peers. How could they be so content with life? Why was life so simple for them? Why couldn’t I have it all?

But then I realised: social media isn’t the problem. It’s me.

Social media doesn’t cause feelings of inadequacy, not really. It merely amplifies the problems we’re already facing. My illness was causing feelings of guilt that I wasn’t working hard enough. Seeing other people working hard, enjoying a good social life or, quite frankly, just living a normal existence served as a constant reminder of the pressures I was putting on myself.

Blogger Twenty-Something City in a bright rainbow stripe dress

We know social media isn’t real life, yet we keep comparing ourselves to others. But the more I open up and talk to fellow twenty-somethings IRL, it’s clear that we are all struggling in one way or another. Maybe if we started being more honest about how we are feeling on social media it would help everyone?

We shouldn’t ever feel obliged to air our dirty laundry online, and no one likes a Facebook attention seeker (‘You OK hun?’ ‘PM me xo’), but I think it’s time we stopped trying to maintain the image of a ‘perfect’ life, full of aspirational achievements and life-changing holidays. Social media isn’t real life, yo.

Blogger Twenty-Something City in Deansgate Castlefield Manchester

As a content creator, my relationship with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will always be complicated. In all honesty, I’ve never been much of a fan, bar using Instagram for outfit inspiration. Posting regularly on social media is something I feel like I have to do to get my content seen and stay current. It can be really draining.

And therein lies another problem: something that should be ‘social’, i.e. fun, has become an obligation. If I played tennis and I stopped enjoying it I wouldn’t keep going, so why was I feeling pressured to post content when updating my blog and Instagram is my hobby? I love sharing my outfits with you, but I hate the rollercoaster of likes and follower numbers. I want to reclaim my channels for myself.

Blogger Twenty-Something City wears rainbow stripe dress

I love having my own corner of the Internet via my blog, and finding out what my friends have been up to via social media. But really? None of it matters. If you don’t want to share what’s going on in your life then don’t. If you don’t feel up to socialising then don’t feel obliged to keep scrolling. But if you want to let the world know you could do with a bit of help? That’s OK too.

When you’re struggling, focus your energy on real life rather than online. That’s what I did, and I feel so much better for it.

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