Social Media: The Pros and Cons

Social media can be used to keep up to date with friends and family. Posts may be shared by friends on holiday, dinning out or sharing wonderful life events. Social media can also be a powerful tool to help raise awareness of current issues, such as: mental health, the refugee crisis and climate change. Overall, social media can have several benefits, some of these include: keeping up to date with friends and family around the world, feeling more connected with people you don’t speak to on a regular basis, following pages you are interested in, making new friendships and providing you with a platform to share with friends and family.

By 2021, it is estimates that more than 3 billion people will be using social media. Some of the most popular social media platforms include: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Snapchat and YouTube. Some may argue that being present in our culture means being present on social media.

I gradually started to decrease my social media use, and found several benefits from this. Over four years ago I deleted my Facebook account, and in January this year I deleted my Snapchat account. I do still use Instagram and WhatsApp – but I do try my best to limit my use of these accounts. I think sometimes we can start to become addicted to: likes, followers, how many friends we have and how our overall image is portrayed online. This can subconsciously have a negative impact on our mental health and well-being. A study taken in 2016 found that participants experienced a sharp decline in their moods after scrolling though Facebook. Social media can also be incredibly addictive. For example, when you post a picture on Instagram or Facebook and you start to receive likes and positive comments your brain will give you a dose of dopamine, making you happy – which has been argued to be addictive. Additionally, it is important to consider the security and privacy issues, particularly since the Cambridge Analytica revelations in March 2018.

I think it is imperative to remember that social media is not real life. People go through the same struggles as you, but most of the time these are not shared on social media. You don’t know the true story behind a picture, so don’t allow it to make you feel any less. Take time to turn your phone off, and live in the present more. I read a thought provoking book recently called ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’ by Matt Haig, which stated: “the desire to tell the world about how happy you are, is not how happy you are”, and that he felt “at times it can feel like we are walking merchandise online.”

Less Scrolling and More Living. Go offline and explore the amazing nature Scotland has to offer. You have no Wi-Fi hiking mountains with friends. Hiking has wonderful benefits, such as: lowers stress levels, improves mood and enhances mental well-being.