There are many different social media platforms these days and each one has its own unique pros and cons. However, one major con that seems to exist on every social media platform is that social media can cause us to feel very lonely.
This may seem counterintuitive, because the whole idea behind social media is to help us stay connected with our friends, family, business connections, and even strangers. But social media has created a new kind of loneliness epidemic.
Why is this happening? This article takes a look at how social media creates strong feelings of loneliness, especially in young adults. It also provides suggestions for how to reduce feelings of loneliness caused by social media use.
Online connection cannot substitute for in-person connection
Humans are social creatures. We respond to in-person social cues such as eye contact, tone of voice, laughter, facial expressions, and physical touch.
When we cannot be in person, social media provides a great substitute because it allows us to communicate. Online, however, communication is stripped down and lacks all those things that we get when we are in person.
That’s why we need a balance in our social lives. Social media use can be better than no social interaction at all, but studies have shown that too much social media use without in-person connection can cause strong feelings of loneliness.
Social media can make us feel inadequate
Social media is usually described as a “highlight reel,” meaning that it only shows us people at their best moments. It is also widely known that many accounts use photoshop to portray unrealistic images as real.
It is easy to compare ourselves to the things we see on social media and feel negatively about ourselves. So, too much consumption and comparison can exacerbate existing feelings of loneliness.
How to combat loneliness caused by social media
Luckily, there are several ways we can minimize the negative impacts of social media and prevent loneliness.
Limit time spent on social media
Studies have shown that some social media use is healthy and does not necessarily cause loneliness. It is only when we start to spend hours upon hours on social media that we begin to feel lonely — especially if we spend hours on social media instead of seeking out in-person connections.
Limit the number of platforms you use
There are so many social media platforms out there today! It is impossible for anyone to stay up to date on all platforms at once. Limiting your use to just a few favorite platforms can help cut down on overall social media use and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and lonely.
Getting constant social media notifications can be distracting and stressful. Every time your phone pings, you are likely to pick it up and start scrolling — even if the notification wasn’t important! Limit overall stress and time spent on social media by turning off whatever notifications you can.
Better curate your social media feeds
What you consume on social media is just as important as how long you spend online. Don’t follow accounts that make you feel jealous, lonely, inadequate, stressed out, or otherwise negatively. Instead, curate your feed so that the content you see leaves you feeling good. Limiting your feeds to just your favorite content can also help you cut down on overall time spent on social media.
Seek out more in-person connections
Of course, the best cure for loneliness is to seek out more in-person connections! Whenever possible, make arrangements to meet face-to-face or chat on the phone instead of just sending a message. You might be surprised how many social connections you can make by just reaching out!