A report from We Are Social and Hootsuite of the 2018 Global Digital report reveals that more than 4 billion people around the world are using the internet now, which is an increase of 7% from the previous year. More than 3 billion of them are using social media, a 13% increase in users from the previous year.
Social media users around the globe typically spend 1-4 hours on social media. According to the report, the Philippines holds the longest time of 3 hours and 57 minutes every day. As for the most used social media, Facebook still stood at number one with YouTube, Whatsapp WeChat and Instagram following behind. The top 10 countries with the most Facebook users, as released on Statista.com per 2019, are India, USA, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Turkey and the UK. Three of them are large Southeast Asian countries, meaning that Southeast Asian people are closely attached to social media use.
Initially, social media served as a solution to connect with distant friends and family. Yet the hype of the use pushes the creators to keep improving, innovating and eventually increase our usage time. They design algorithms to capture our attention, so we only see things we like which include graduation, weddings, babies, engagement, new job, new car and other accomplishments. The contents we are exposed to are a mix of our relatives and professionals who design and plan their social media content to engage the audience without considering much of giving their version of reality.
Our own feed leads us to measure and scrutinize all the little details in our lives and how it compares with those we see on social media. The toxic impact of this is anxiety and depression, as we keep quantifying our humanity. The effects vary from constant comparison, fear of missing out (FOMO), instant-culture (where we easily get likes, loves and other form of appreciation for the little things we do, as shallow as… posting our food) and behavioral modification through algorithm (that we are only given what we wish to see).
There’s always someone who has more of everything and for a while, it may seem to motivate us to do better things. But recently, study after study have shown that the reverse is happening: we simply feel bad about ourselves. A new term of mental illness emerges: the social media anxiety disorder. People who suffer from this get severely anxious on the notion that they can’t check their social media every few minutes, say due to outdoor activities or signal problems.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of social media anxiety disorder.
- Interrupt conversations to check on social media
- Socially withdrawing from friends and family in real life
- Loss of interest in other (real life) activities
- Neglecting work due to the time spent on social media (and the time used to cope with the anxiety or stress caused by it)
- Spending over six hours a day on social media
- Constant voice in the head to measure how much things in real life can be used as content or worthy to share on social media.
- Severe nervousness when unable to check notifications
- Negative behavioral impact on work or school or generally in real life.
It is not incurable, but the power of mindset plays a huge part in the healing. Many methods such as social media detox can be a great method for those who suffer from this disorder. Most importantly, we must realize that people will share all the great things that are happening in their lives and only that. So do we, right? Why would we share about the time we slip onto a dirty mud and ruin our OOTD or the time some stray cat peed on our garage? If you think your life is not as awesome as others, well, it’s because other people don’t show you the bad things that happen to them. Besides, obsessing over others’ achievement won’t make your life any better than it already is.