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It’s really hard to ignore social media even if you hardly use it because it has become an inevitable part of our lives with friends and family being on it as well.
Facebook may be waning in popularity with the advent of TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter being more popular as sounding boards, but the effects of it are no less damaging.
The mind-numbing action of liking and following posts is literally like feeding candy to your brain. And did you know that Facebook can even increase your appetite?
Looking at photos can activate your brain’s reward centre goading you into overeating. Even more damaging are pictures of food which may trigger you to start snacking and binge-eating.
According to a 2019 study published in the Heliyon journal, the use of social media and your perception of physical health can get complicated. Researchers found that Facebook use and social comparison resulted in an increased awareness of physical symptoms.
“More people are spending more time on Facebook and social comparisons are an inevitable part of the experience,” said lead study author and health psychologist, Bridget Dibb.
“It is important to be more aware of how this activity affects us, and how it may change how we feel about ourselves, given the strong link between well-being, quality of life and physical health.”
“Our most important finding was that participants who feel Facebook is an important part of their lives also report more symptoms linking social comparison activity with the perception of worse physical health,” said Dibb.
The study defined social comparison as the need to compare yourself with other people in order to “evaluate and self-enhance”. Insecure people or those with low self-esteem maybe more susceptible to this.
For example, people who feel anxious as a result of social media comparison may be more at risk for respiratory infections. According to Medical News Today, stress and anxiety can negatively impact the immune system.
Another huge problem with Facebook for many people is that it activates envy.
According to researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin Humboldt University, one in three people felt worse about their life after checking Facebook.
“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” said Krasnova.
The biggest source of envy was usually vacation or holiday photos, and also how many likes and comments other people received for their birthday greetings.
So how do you combat all of this? Perhaps you can find a way to use Facebook productively by finding support groups or resources that help you manage what you are going through. That would be a sensible and useful way to utilize social media.
Constant scrolling and counting the number of likes for validation is not going to help you in any way, especially from people who you don’t like or are toxic to you or bring out negative emotions in you.
Sometimes the old age advice of just switching off all devices and going out for a walk to get some fresh air will help the best.
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