Social media is often seen as the villain in today’s society, but could it actually be the pandemic’s secret hero?
Whether it’s posting their thoughts on Twitter, scrolling through memes on Reddit, liking a friend’s photos on Instagram, or watching videos on Tiktok, most people use social media regularly. With so many people using these sites, it’s no wonder the effects of social media have been studied so thoroughly. The results of this research have often not been favorable to the prospect that social media is beneficial. Many of these studies have shown how social media can become addictive, how seeing photo-edited and tweaked photos can lead to self-esteem issues, and how seeing “influencers” leading extravagant lifestyles can lead a person to to be depressed by his own life. Recently, however, the overwhelming number of negative social media may finally be outweighed by the benefits it can bring.
For most of the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has made social life nearly impossible. People have been forced to isolate themselves from friends, family and co-workers to avoid catching or spreading the virus. That means working remotely, attending their classes on zoom, only leaving home to buy groceries and other essentials, and generally only spending time with people in your own household. All of this isolation has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, with feelings of loneliness and depression becoming rampant among people of all age groups. In these trying times, people need a saving grace, something that can help improve their mental health by making them feel connected to their friends and loved ones again. Luckily for them, the social media sites that many believe are poisoning the minds of teens and young adults might just be the unlikely hero they needed. Yes, there are many potential downsides to using social media, but it’s called ‘social’ media for a reason. It is a tool that allows you to interact with your friends and family without having to occupy the same space as them and can therefore help you stay digitally connected with the world around you without having to leave your home.
Research seems to support that social media also plays this beneficial role. A study published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relations found that social media use has a negative relationship with both existential isolation and social loneliness, meaning that the more a person uses social media, the less isolated and lonely they feel. Another study of Youth and The society suggests that receiving positive feedback online can help with mental well-being and can actually help a person alleviate some of the symptoms of depression they might be experiencing. While online social support may not have as much of an impact as face-to-face support, it’s still better than nothing and helps maintain a sense of community. Social media has also played a vital role in the mental development of teenagers. During this period of a person’s life, social ties and relationships are important. Not having social interaction during this time can leave a teenager socially stunted because they haven’t had a chance to develop the skills needed for everyday interactions. These teens rely almost entirely on social media to learn the social skills they need and build relationships with their peers through video chats, calls, or simple text messages. All of these benefits listed show how important social media has been in maintaining and growing social interactions during the pandemic, but the positive uses of social media don’t stop there. Social media is also a great place for self-expression for people of all ages and has also been one of the main platforms used by the CDC to disseminate information about COVID, such as safety guidelines and new developments, due to its ability to spread news. quickly across the country.
While many positive aspects of social media are being highlighted during the pandemic, it’s important to remember that the negatives still exist. People can still have damaged self-esteem and mental health. They may still become addicted to social connectivity and experience anxiety when offline. Social networks remain a place for the dissemination of false information. Therefore, even though the use of social media can be beneficial, people should always be wary and aware of the downsides when using it. Like most things in this world, there is a limit when too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. It is important for us as individuals to decide for ourselves where the threshold should be in order to maximize the good we can get from social media and minimize the negative effects.