The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
By: Cynthia Pena, LCSW
The “New Existential Crisis”
The impact of Social Media on Mental Health
By Cynthia Pena, LCSW
Within the past 20 years, the accessibility of social media platforms continues to advance; so much so, that the ages of users have become increasingly younger. The impact it has had on people continues to be researched. As a therapist working with children, adolescence, and adults, I have had a first hand account of the mental health implications of social media; to which, I have come to call, “the new existential crisis.”
In recent years, the amount of young people struggling with this existential crisis has increased exponentially. I strongly believe that is crisis is directly linked to to social media and it’s never ending abyss of comparisons and FOMO (fear of missing out). Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, have become a microcosm of our larger society, with its own culture, social norms, values and beliefs. Users have found themselves using social media platforms as a way to gage their life and self-worth. “Likes” have translated into validation and publishing pictures of our vacations, successes, etc, has caused people to be more susceptible to insecurities, anxiety, and depressed mood.
The idea of existential crisis has been studied by psychologists/psychiatrists, such as, Kazimierz Dabrowski and Irvin D. Yalom. People who experience existential crises struggle with anxiety and depressed symptoms around ones purpose and the meaning of life. Being consistently flooded by posts on different social media platforms has caused us to question our lives and existence. I believe the new existential crisis that has arose circles back to social media and the act of comparing our lives to others based on what we internalize from posts.
Remedies for this new existential crisis would require confronting internal conflicts such as, meaninglessness and uncertainty, through self-awareness and self-understanding. In addition, enhanced authenticity and engaging in more true-self experiences, rather than projecting a false narrative, will promote a more meaningful life. Lastly, working out underlying insecurities will decrease preoccupations around needing validation from social media platforms. Recently, there have been discussions around removing “likes” from platforms. It remains to be seen whether the removal of “likes” on platforms will create a lateral shift in the current existential crisis. What I know for sure is that working out inner wounds and increasing insight will lead to a more fulfilling life.
Written by: Cynthia Pena, LCSW