Many people spend time chatting and catching up with friends on social media, but are they really being ‘social’ when chatting behind a screen and not face-to-face?
Social media isn’t so social
According to Joseph Rock, PsyD, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic, while social media is a fun distraction, it’s really not as social as we sometimes think and that can pose a problem for some folks.
“You do get very self-absorbed,” said Dr. Rock. “That’s a problem, I think, and I think the other problem is you realize you’re making yourself vulnerable to a whole bunch of other people who really don’t even know you and certainly don’t have your best interest at heart, necessarily.”
Dr. Rock said many people think of social media as the same as communicating face-to-face, but really it isn’t. He said when people rely on social media, there is no physical connection and this is a problem because people need human connection for their mental well-being.
Dr. Rock said that because social media is still relatively new, compared to other forms of communication, our brains are still getting used to how it all works.
He said it’s easy for folks to over-share information that they wouldn’t normally feel comfortable with sharing to such a large audience if it were done face to face. Likewise, it’s easy for people lose sight of the fact that their responses are not one-on-one conversations, but are often seen by many people.
Potential for negativity
Dr. Rock also said that sharing information and opinions opens the door to negative responses and while some folks are okay with it, others are more prone to getting angry or getting hurt feelings.
He said this can be really problematic for folks who already struggle with social anxiety.
“It’s virtual fantasy. You don’t know if these people are telling you the truth, you don’t know if they are who they say they are, if they’re doing what they say they’re doing, but it feels the same to us, as if you and I are having a face-to-face discussion and you’re insulting me,” said Dr. Rock. “The problem is it’s much easier to insult someone who’s not sitting in front of you, but it still hurts as badly if you’re receiving it.”