Social Media the Internet and Mental Health

Social Media the Internet and Mental Health

Social Media the Internet and Mental Health

I am not unlike most other people, I have a relationship with the internet and social media.

Sometimes it could be healthy, other times it can be abusive and one I feel trapped in, I want to get out of it, but somehow I can’t. The internet is one of the best inventions of all time, but it also bombards us with bad news, fake posts, and creates a distance between us and what is most important, spending time with those we love and those who love us.

There is always a balance between “Real Life” and what we consume and choose to share on the internet. Many times these lines get blurred and difficult to see and understand. But I am reminded recently by something someone wrote once in my high school senior yearbook. She was not a particularly close friend, we may have had a few classes together and talked a few times, in fact I what you are about to read is perhaps the only conversation I ever had with her. I also have absolutely no idea what she has been doing for the last 20 years and barely remember this high school event.

“Dylan, don’t leave room for me! Any way, you’re a really cool guy… except when you stop talking to me for no reason! I did my first real “bad deed” with you that one day you, Sarah, and me left after the AP test. I had fun even though I was too paranoid of getting caught! Don’t think you’re going to get rid of me too easily cause I know I’ll see you like a million times at Chipotle, and you can’t hide from anyone that lives in the same city, and I’m going to Solano as well so we’ll probably see each other somewhat often. Behave over the summer! I still remember that one day you were sad about your friends and all I want to say is if you ever doubt someone is your friend, they really aren’t. Don’t let someone make you their “doormat” enough of that, don’t get mad for it either, that wasn’t my intention. So while you’re off “building trees” I say goodbye for now.” Keep in touch okay?

Heart Always


Remember Cows have Feelings (that’s an ACADECA Joke, I was referencing the Happy Cows make Happy Cheese commercial by the CA Dairy People, but reversed it and said “Happy Cheese makes Happy Cows… wait.. Happy Milk makes Happy Cheese…” and then everyone thought it was a dummy and began making jokes about how I said cows have feelings like I was a vegan, even though I eat meat.)

Any way I am pretty sure her writing in my yearbook was the last time I saw her. But I read it the other day and thought it was a good metaphor for modern day social media use and how horrible people can be on the internet.

Facebook has basically replaced the yearbook and high school reunion. It used to be that you didn’t know what your people from high school were up to until 10-20 years later and then you caught up. You had years of stories to share about life after high school, and everybody remembers the good times in the yearbook they can flip through to remember people by. Social Media has ruined that for everyone.

But it also may have ruined friendships. I do recall confiding in Corina about how my friends were treating me like a doormat which really wasn’t anything new to me at the time. The internet has a tendency to make all of us the dirty boots we wipe off on a doormat of other other people’s social media posts. Facebook makes it easy for us to erase our friends when life happens and drama occurs, with just a few clicks we can feel better about never talking to someone again without thinking about what those actions might do to someone we once called our friend.

I have found in my post high school life that most of the time people become “my friend” when my life is either a complete disaster and they sort of let me into their lives to temporarily cheer me up. Or when their life is in a complete disaster and want my advice because they have seen me go through tough times and temporarily let me into their lives as a helper of sorts. Eventually what happens is friendships die, people move on, and the past happens, even though when we are living in those times we never view it as what our past will become, we view it as our present and our life. It will eventually become our past that we look back on with either fond memories or feelings of regret and sadness full of what ifs and only if this’s.

That’s life for many people in their 20’s and 30’s.

But how does this relate to social media and the internet?

Well here is a theory I have about social media and the internet. The internet is much like a 24/7 365 day pilgrimage or “Camino”. It will provide us clues as to what our true direction should be if only we pay attention. It is kind of like the law of attraction and the psychic belief that if we just tune ourselves to a different wavelength then we will attract the stuff into our lives we deserve. I doubt there is any real science or anything to this, in fact it sounds quite religious if you ask me, it’s as if it was a constant prayer that will one day be answered. But that is also kind of like the internet.

The internet and social media may give us a news article, a Facebook post, a job opportunity, a new connection, an blast from the past, whatever it may be that makes us feel a certain way about ourselves and others. These feelings or triggers if you may let us know about who our true authentic selves are and who are the people who care about us most are. They are kind of like the pilgrim signs on the Camino pointing us in the right direction, we only need to pay closer attention to find them. But the problem is the internet is also a big distraction that takes us away from the true important things in life, and it distracts us from finding those personal moments on our computer screen that help guide our way.

The internet and social media is kind of like a break up. We may continue a habit or routine or interest we picked up on from an ex girlfriend, and she may continue a habit or routine or re visit a past date she had with an ex with a new someone and not ever say anything. One hack I have is to simply replace experiences with a new someone, if you enjoyed going somewhere with an ex girlfriend, but the relationship didn’t work out, simply find someone new and take her to the same place, heal the break up by reliving your past with someone new in secret. Social media is kind of like that as well. We may lose contact with a friend or someone, but then also continue to post about something they used to do as a way of healing, but then it becomes part of ourselves and we just forget that life can be like that. Here is an example, I had friends once who made fun of me over my Marie Kondo routine that I posted on social media. My argument was that being neat and tidy was a good habit to get into that a future wife or girlfriend would appreciate one day. At the time my guy friends thought it was lame and stupid…. Then some drama happened and I lost contact with those friends. Then a year or so after losing contact, that very same person who was joking and making fun of me posted on social media doing Marie Kondo because his girlfriend and now wife was getting him into doing his own laundry and stuff for the first time and he was going to do it right from the start.

People become like the people they hang out with and spend time with and that can be mirrored and reflected in social media posts and art. These reflections on our computer screens can get our emotions going and our feelings churning causing us to get mad, get upset, lash out, and go into the negative. I have found that when I get angry like that it is usually because someone is dropping some major truth bombs on me that I don’t want to listen to. I have been blessed to have some friends who once firebombed me with a bunch of truths.

But I think I am going to take a page out of my yearbook and listen to what this high school friend of mine once wrote. “all I want to say is if you ever doubt someone is your friend, they really aren’t. Don’t let someone make you their “doormat” enough of that, don’t get mad for it either,”

But fighting this good fight on social media is almost like being Sisyphus. So here is what I have decided to do today. I have found this method tends to always work for my mental health, and if it works for me then it might work for you.

  1. Delete, Delete, Delete. I have emailed so many resumes for job offers that never got answered back or answered back with a job offer it became incredibly frustrating. So I just deleted the account and blamed my failures on google, then opened a new one to try to get some new energy going. So today I deleted two old email accounts that were not doing me any good except reminding me of my past.
  2. Reduce temptation, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone but kept messenger because there are two people on it who are sports fans who I enjoy talking Baseball and Football with. Spending too much time on Facebook just reminds me how much more successful and happy other people are and how none of them are real friends but just digital portraits of people I used to know in high school. This is depressing, but I also enjoy some of the older people my family and my Dad’s friends who are on Facebook so I’ll keep it around.
  3. LinkedIn is a waste of time, maybe if I started my linked in account 15 years ago and kept it then it would be useful, but I have always kind of hated social media so now at my age it is kind of pointless.  It also brings up a past memory that I care to leave in the past. It got deleted today
  4. Instagram: All of my accounts got deleted today, Pictures exist on my hard drive and on my website for sale, posting digital polaroids just for fun is kind of pointless.  Also I don't ever get any traffic from this platform to my website so it is just kind of a waste of digital space.  Better to just delete it and move on.  also the platform brings up a past that I care not to remember. 
  5. Snapchat, is just too damn strange for my area, I am pretty sure the only people on snapchat in Sutter County are prostitutes, mobile porn content creators, and scam artists. I am too old for snapchat. It got deleted today
  6. OnlyFans. This is the only platform I enjoy being on because the women on it are actually quite nice and have been some of the only people who have been rhetorically supportive of my creativity.
  7. Youtube: I’ll still make YouTube videos because I enjoy making them for my 9 subscribers. But this is just me being creative on my computer screen trying to learn new things more then it is me making money on the internet. It’s fun to make videos.
  8. My blog, that’s where I will be posting stuff on the internet because it is part of my business.
  9. Twitter: I have never seen the point of Twitter or X, and probably never will. A complete waste of time in my opinion.
  10. The internet is like the personal computer and a bicycle, it is supposed to improve our lives instead of damage it. From my experience the internet and social media has pretty much destroyed every important personal friendship in my life, and has been a complete disaster for me from a mental health perspective. But I can’t avoid the internet…. So what is my plan?
    1. Use the internet more effectively to improve myself.
    2. Spend more time on Babel learning Italian instead of social media getting irritated and depressed.
    3. Spend more time on my computer writing, every psychological problem that someone may have could probably be fixed by someone simply sitting down and writing. Writing forces you to get to know yourself better, which can also be a terrifying experience, but it is also completely worth it.  People can get to know me by reading my books if they want to.  If not... That's cool too.
    4. Take more pictures out in the real world. I need to do this more.
    5. Add more fun products to my shop, spend more time creating an email marketing list, and improve my SEO. Hopefully I can make a few extra dollars this holiday season.
    6. I have no idea, but this is a good start.


To summarize: social media and the internet is supposed to make us feel more connected to each other and our friends.  But it can also give us the opposite feeling of being disconnected from what is important in life, real life human to human interactions.  They may call themselves "Social Media Platforms" but in reality they can also be Social Distance Platforms.  Making us feeling lost, disorganized, depressed, and disconnected from ourselves and others.

The Negative Mental Health Impacts of Social Media

Social media platforms have undoubtedly changed the way we communicate, share, and stay connected. While these platforms offer countless benefits, they also present potential risks to our mental well-being. Below, we explore the negative mental health impacts of excessive or improper social media use:

  1. Anxiety and Stress: The pressure to present an idealized version of one's life, coupled with the fear of missing out (FOMO), can induce anxiety. Regular exposure to negative news or distressing content can further heighten stress levels.
  2. Depression: Comparing oneself to others on social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Over time, this can contribute to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression.
  3. Sleep Disturbances: Excessive use, especially before bedtime, can interfere with sleep patterns. The blue light emitted by screens can also hinder the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
  4. Body Image Issues: Social media often perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards, leading users to feel dissatisfied with their appearance, potentially resulting in body dysmorphic disorder.
  5. Social Isolation: While social media promises connectivity, it can sometimes result in feelings of loneliness. A virtual 'like' or comment does not replace genuine human interaction.
  6. Decreased Attention Span: The constant flow of information and the habit of scrolling can reduce one’s ability to focus on tasks for extended periods.
  7. Cyberbullying: The anonymity and distance provided by online platforms can sometimes embolden individuals to engage in harmful behaviors, like trolling or cyberbullying, affecting the mental well-being of victims.
  8. Decreased Self-esteem: A lack of engagement on a post or seeing peers achieve milestones can lead to feelings of low self-worth.
  9. Addictive Behaviors: The instant gratification from likes, comments, and shares can create a dopamine-driven feedback loop, making it hard for users to disconnect.
  10. Distorted Reality: Algorithms often present content that aligns with a user's views, creating echo chambers and limiting exposure to diverse perspectives.

Screen Addiction and its Mental Health Disadvantages

Screen addiction, often associated with excessive use of smartphones, computers, tablets, and televisions, poses a threat to our mental health. While this type of addiction isn't exclusive to social media, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter can exacerbate the problem due to their design, which encourages continuous scrolling and engagement.

  1. Cognitive Decline: Overreliance on screens can lead to decreased cognitive function. Continual information processing without breaks can strain the brain, reducing its ability to think critically and remember information.
  2. Sleep Disruption: Blue light emitted from screens can interfere with melatonin production, a hormone responsible for sleep regulation. This can lead to insomnia, reduced REM sleep, and overall poor sleep quality.
  3. Physical Health Issues: Prolonged screen time can result in eyestrain, headaches, and poor posture, leading to back and neck pain. Over time, these physical ailments can contribute to feelings of discomfort, anxiety, or depression.
  4. Emotional Disconnect: Screen addiction often replaces face-to-face human interactions. This can result in reduced empathy, understanding, and connection with others, leading to feelings of isolation.
  5. Increased Stress Levels: Constant notifications, updates, and the need to stay 'connected' can elevate stress, making it hard for individuals to disconnect and relax.

Valuing Life Through the Lens of Others on Social Media

Social media platforms, by their very nature, encourage users to present the best versions of their lives. This can result in individuals measuring their own worth and success based on the curated lives they observe online.

  1. Distorted Self-worth: When self-worth is tied to likes, comments, and shares, it becomes externalized and contingent upon online validation rather than intrinsic values and personal accomplishments.
  2. Unrealistic Expectations: Seeing only the highlights of others’ lives can lead to unrealistic expectations for one's own life, causing feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction.
  3. Comparison Trap: Constant comparison with peers can lead to feelings of jealousy, resentment, and a diminished sense of self-worth. This “compare and despair” cycle is a significant contributor to anxiety and depression.
  4. Loss of Authenticity: In the pursuit of validation, individuals might stray from their true selves, leading to feelings of emptiness and identity confusion.
  5. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Seeing others engage in activities or achieve milestones can invoke a fear of being left out or falling behind, leading to anxiety and feelings of isolation.
  6. Reinforcement of Negative Beliefs: Seeing perceived "perfect" lives can reinforce negative self-beliefs, such as "I'm not good enough," "I'm not successful," or "Everyone is happier than me."

In sum, while screens and social media have brought unprecedented connectivity and opportunities, they also come with potential pitfalls. Awareness of these issues, combined with proactive measures like digital detoxes, setting screen time limits, and engaging in offline activities, can help in mitigating these mental health risks.

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