How to Prevent Social Media Toxicity

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Everyone talks about what they love about social media, but the negative aspects are often left out. Social media can be toxic and detrimental to your mental health when you are exposed to negative comments. These negative comments can be very powerful and make you feel sad at times. Social media is also toxic if you are constantly comparing yourself with people on Instagram who post exotic and wealthy pictures. This can make you feel sad by comparing your life which lacks those elements of materialism. When using social media, keep your mental health in mind and learn to spot and eliminate the negative aspects of them. How to prevent social media toxicity is not difficult, but are you willing to make the changes?

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How to Prevent Social Media Toxicity Depends on Your Mindset

You have to stop approaching social media with an expectation of change. What do I mean by that? Stop wishing for more likes, follows, impressions, retweets, etc. Deep down, we all desire these features because they make us feel important and popular. Whenever they happen, believe it or not, our brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is part of the reward system of our brain and is released to make us feel good. So that’s why when you get that famous follow or a bunch of likes, you feel really excited in that moment; that’s dopamine. The problem is that like with any drug that induces a release of dopamine, a similar experience can be observed with social media.

Instead, approach social media with the intention of just having fun and naturally interacting with others, but without any expectations. If you’re naturally good at attracting attention on these platforms, then it’s even more important that you maintain a healthy life balance. Try to avoid habitually checking your social media pages at the same time; mix it up. Learn to incorporate other activities into your life such as exercising, meditating, stretching and in-person socializing. Don’t fall into the trap of checking your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter multiple times a day. This is when you risk becoming psychologically hooked on the platforms.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Comparing Yourself to Others

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We all make the mistake to assume that others are happier than us just because they’re doing activities that sound fun. You are constantly comparing yourself to others which can be toxic for your mental health. This is especially true if you’re constantly putting yourself down while believing that others are living the life. Even if they are living fancy lives, what does this have to do with you? You waste so much energy magnifying their life instead of using it to improve yours.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

People have always compared themselves to others since the beginning of time. Physical comparisons focus on musculature, height and beauty. Material comparisons focus on wealth, cars, clothes and homes. People even compare their character traits by trying to emulate others. They love those who display humor, are the center of attention, attract attention from the opposite sex and demonstrate leadership. But the worst of them all is social media comparisons; people do it unconsciously.

What do I mean by unconscious social media comparisons? Take for instance Instagram, where you can find thousands of images on beauty and materialism. Some people will open the app every day and admire the lives of others that they don’t have. But rather than admiring them in a good way, they sit there feeling down because they lack the beauty and wealth which they see on the screen. This causes them to feel insecure and sad and results in a loss of confidence. I say this is an unconscious process because many people don’t realize that it’s the images that are making them feel down. They just keep looking at them day after day.

Comparing yourself to others: eyes with colors of Google logo

The Solution

Be comfortable with your physical traits and what you have. Start practicing gratitude and stop focusing on what you wish you had. There’s a difference between dreaming and seeking and comparing yourself to others. Dreaming is coming from your healthy, motivated side of your mind, while comparisons come from your insecure part of your mind. Why are you tapping into the secure portion of your mind? Let go and stop connecting with it. Focus on being thankful, practicing gratitude and keeping yourself inspired with awesome dreams.

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Misinformation on Social Media

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Be very careful with others on social media spreading information on psychiatric medications. Oftentimes, this information is false and not accurate. Always seek professional advice from a doctor. Anyone can post misinformation on social media about psychiatric medications. Believe it or not, many also have an agenda to bash medications that help millions of people worldwide live better lives. They’re probably paid to do it, angry about personal adverse outcomes or simply don’t understand their importance.

Misinformation on social media: hand holding cellphone next to laptop

Be Careful with Misinformation on Social Media

Sometimes the truth is distorted to suit certain intentions. What makes it believable is that the misinformation can be based on truth, but tweaked with a hidden agenda. Sometimes you can spot the agenda but you must keep your eyes open and your mind sharp. I’m not suggesting that all alternative information is misinformation. There lies much truth out there that is not presented in the mainstream media. I’m suggesting that you don’t get your information from sources that can spread misinformation.

The problem is identifying these sources that spread misinformation. The good ones disguise the information so well that it’s hard to tell if it’s misinformation. In return, you end up reading or hearing something presented on medications and you believe. You don’t question, you don’t challenge and you don’t bother. You accept because it sounds good and the person presenting it has caught your attention. It’s very easy to get hooked this way. Believe it or not, all great media sources are skilled at capturing the minds of many. You just have to spot which have good intentions and which don’t.

When it comes to psychiatric medications, stick with healthcare professionals, preferably in person. Things have changed a little bit since the pandemic started, with telepsychiatry gaining more popularity. Telepsychiatry involves remotely seeing your psychiatrist or mental healthcare provider from any location. It doesn’t require you to be in an office. It’s very convenient for patients to do these sessions from the comfort of their home (sometimes discomfort if you know what I mean). Whether you choose telepsychiatry or in person appointments does not matter. Just don’t start out with internet sources.

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Social Media Impacting Your Mental Health

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The Exotic Lifestyles Of Instagram

With so much time on our hands during this social distancing chapter of our lives, it’s hard not to notice the exotic pictures on instagram and other social media websites. Believe it or not, not everyone is stuck in your typical apartment or house in a normal town. Many are stuck in exotic places like Caribbean islands! But does social media negatively impact your mental health?

You bet it does. But it also depends if you allow it to. Remember that everything works on an unconscious level: our interactions with others, our observation of the environment, our perception of others’ lives, etc. Everything is recorded in the unconscious mind. Social media is basically a snapshot of others’ lives in that timeframe, but it is not at all representative of how those people are feeling.

The problem with social media is that when we observe pictures that we are attracted to, we forget to remind ourselves that it does not mean that the people in those pictures are happy with their lives. We just focus on the glamour and when we do that, it has the potential to make us sad in return, because we compare it with our ordinary lives.

So what you end up getting out of social media is a small dopamine rush by noticing beautiful and attractive pictures of people, places and things at the expense of your own happiness. That’s because the dopamine rush (which is minuscule in this case but strong enough to notice) lasts for a very short time, but your unhappiness can last for a much longer time.

So what you end up doing is revisiting these social media websites to get more of your fix, rather than focusing on your life and how to improve your mental health. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t spend time visiting social media platforms, but be aware of your state of mind and how it can be easily influenced by social media; don’t be oblivious!

And definitely don’t envy the exotic lifestyles which you notice on Instagram. Being envious towards others’ success will only make you miserable and prevent you from developing your own success. Don’t be that person. Rather, be appreciative and happy for others’ success. Would you want others to be envious of your success? I hope that you wouldn’t.

We are supposed to live happily together by teaching, sharing and helping each other. Our goal is to try to diminish the negative traits in humanity and promote new positive ones that can be passed down to future generations!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Weaponizing Mental Illness

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Social Media Linked to Depression in Girls

The weaponization of mental illness is not a topic which you hear often; as a matter of fact, you almost never hear about it. That’s because to believe that there is a covert agenda to weaponize mental illness sounds outlandish and even extreme. Who would think of doing that and what would be the reason for it?

One interesting connection that can be made is the use of social media. New studies are revealing that the more frequently children and teenagers check their social media accounts (3 times per day is considered high), the higher their risk of developing depression. This is because a higher frequency of social media use results in poorer sleep, distractions from academics, sports and in-person relationships, cyberbullying and less physical exercise.

The evidence is demonstrating that social media use impacts girls more than boys. Girls are more likely to be emotionally affected by cyberbullying and are more prone to developing depression. It’s believed that depression is more common in females because of the sex steroid known as estrogen; it’s not clear why estrogen increases the risk of depression.

Taking away your children’s cell phones and access to computers is not a realistic solution in this day and age. But some possible solutions include:

  • No tech use in the bedroom at night
  • Teaching your children from a young age to focus more on academics and sports
  • Teaching your children about the dangers of social media use
  • Teaching your children discipline and balance
  • Setting a good example as a parent by not using social media that often

But what does this have to do with weaponizing mental illness? While a stretch, it’s always good to think outside the box and keep an open mind. Social media may be the platform that is relied upon by a covert organization to consistently contribute to the development of a mental illness, especially in children and adolescents.

By utilizing social media to cause mental illness in the masses, this tool helps to mentally destabilize the population, contributing to violence, mass shootings, hatred, division and suicides. Because there is no way on Earth that nature would contribute to mental illness, the only ways that a covert organization would increase mental illness is by technology and the reliance on genetic mutations.

How surprised would you be if scientists discovered that more than 1 hour of screen time per day would cause brain changes and genetic mutations, that would lead to the development of a mental illness? Would this be considered the weaponization of mental illness?

People are more prone to make irrational and impulsive decisions when suffering from a mental illness, especially when not medicated or under-medicated. And rather than relying on genetics for the development of mental illnesses in the masses, an environmental trigger must be created and utilized for fast results.

Is that where social media comes into play? Once again, this connection between social media and the weaponization of mental illness has absolutely no basis in the scientific literature. This is simply an idea worth entertaining, especially for those folks who keep an open mind to things and enjoy thinking outside the box.

If you’re not one of them, then forget that you ever heard of the weaponization of mental illness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Losing Hope

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Not Seeing Any Results

There are many reasons for why one may lose hope, but there are also many reasons for why one should keep hoping. Living in a culture that feeds on immediate gratification, it’s very easy to fall into the mental trap of expecting instant results. Sure, you can receive instant results, but are they quality and beneficial to your growth as a person?

Social media has a huge influence on our expectations. Whether we are conscious of the process or not, we often compare ourselves to those who have more materialism: your Dan Bilzerians, Kim Kardashians, rappers, Instagram models, Oscar winners and more. We are so attracted by their lifestyles, that we become disappointed when we don’t see our small expectations become a fruitful reality.

Social media is a big problem with why people easily lose hope. Many times, people don’t realize that their goals are unrealistic or unnecessary; they are only shooting for them because they believe that’s what everyone else must be shooting for. They want a BMW when they can’t even afford a Honda!

Your hope for a better life will always be lost if you don’t adjust your expectations. Don’t shoot for unrealistic goals or ones that won’t serve you well; don’t try to be like the rest of them. You must realize that celebrities are celebrities for a reason: they are either extremely talented and gifted, lucky, full of connections or all of the above.

Even if you aren’t shooting for unrealistic goals, don’t give up just because you haven’t seen any meaningful results. For instance, many people believe that they won’t find their significant other because “dating apps suck.” Even though the consensus is that dating apps are not the best way to meet someone, and that even the “hottest” people struggle with them, that doesn’t mean that you should give up hope!

Do what you have to do while maintaining a positive state of mind. You are going to have days when you will feel like giving up, but don’t allow those days to be the end of your dreams. If you want something, are working towards it and believe wholeheartedly that you will accomplish it, then you are already in a much better position to achieve it!

In Matthew 17:20 of the bible, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Plant those seeds of faith and keep watering them every day.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Social Media Seriously Harms Your Mental Health

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Negative Effects Of Social Media

Ever since the arrival of social media websites such as FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram, many people have wasted precious hours of their life on the internet rather than going out and making friends, socializing, playing sports, exercising, reading and studying.

People who spend more than two hours per day on social media are more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is because social media makes you believe that others are having fun and “living the life” while you are sitting behind a computer screen as a bystander; it is all a mirage. Most people are not living extravagant lives and having as much fun as you think they are.

Social media increases your risk of experiencing cyberbullying. There are people out there who love putting others down and causing them embarrassment and humiliation; Twitter is big for this kind of behavior. Experiencing cyberbullying can make you feel depressed; some people even commit suicide.

FOMO or “fear of missing out” is developing anxiety when you observe others on social media having more fun than you are having; you become scared of missing out on a positive experience or emotion that someone else is experiencing.

For example, a college student on FaceBook observes that a bunch of his classmates are attending a party on Friday night, but he was not invited. This will cause him to feel lonely and possibly even depressed.

Social media promotes unrealistic expectations (i.e., Youtube millionaires, Instagram modeling, becoming famous for doing something online) that waste your energy and time and distract you from the more important things in life, such as education and realistic career goals.

Social media can make you believe that you have a negative body image. For instance, seeing famous accounts on Instagram of men and women who are fit, rich and wearing expensive clothes can make you feel insecure about yourself; you start wondering why you don’t look like them. This promotes insecurity, anxiety and makes you feel self-conscious.

Social media can adversely affect your sleep quality. Many people stay up late to chat and browse photos and other people’s accounts, causing them to develop poor sleep hygiene and feeling non-productive the following day. This habit can promote drug use such as stimulants to stay up the next day. In the long run, unhealthy sleep patterns pave the way to mental illness.

Lastly, social media can be very addicting. Most people have to check their accounts at least once a day to make sure that they are not missing out on something. As with any addiction, it affects your mood, choices, beliefs and behavioral patterns.

As with anything in life, moderation is key!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)