Can Facebook Be Making You Sick?
If you ever heard "Social media is bad for you," did you stop to think how? Even with the perceived connectedness we feel in the moment while scrolling through our newsfeed, is doing so actually disconnecting us from our true selves and making us sick? Research targeting social media suggests so.
If you ever heard "Social media is bad for you," did you stop to think how? Or did you log right back into Facebook to check out the latest feed? Despite the casual hint surrounding the negative influences of social media, more than one billion people are active on Facebook.
How Facebook May Be Making Us Sick
In a report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers argue regular Facebook may be negatively impacting our overall well-being. But you may be wondering how social media is bad you, particularly with exciting engagement pictures, victories of completing a marathon, joys of a new baby, and extravagant vacations on a beach. But that's exactly it: People are self-comparing too much, placing too much pressure on themselves, and engaging in passive interactions that are generally unfulfilling and unsatisfying. And rather than living for our own true value and worth, we are hiding emotions with each "like" or click of a post or link. And not to mention, after scrolling through newsfeeds and logging out, people often feel as if they have just wasted precious time, leading to remorse over unproductivity and takes a hit to overall mental health.
But beyond the negative emotions you may be feeling after just 20-minutes of Facebook scrolling, research suggests it could be compromising the immune system. The immune system is the body's primary defense mechanism, combatting against chronic inflammation by mitigating the risks of infection and disease. But under chronic and ongoing stress, the immune system can become suppressed and increase the susceptibility to infection. Ongoing social media studies indicate that social network use, such as Facebook, can serve as a chronic stress to some users and contribute to poor health.
In fact, in a study published in Computers in Humane Behavior, researches sought out to surface the underlying interactions between Facebook use, stress, and health. Healthy college students completed online questionnaires assessing Facebook use then were tracked for 10 weeks. Researchers found users who demonstrated anxiety regarding Facebook use had an increased number of log-ins and were associated to poorer health. Moreover, subjects who reported provoked anxiety and stress from Facebook use had a significantly higher number of upper respiratory infections.
Disconnecting with Facebook and Connecting with Health
Screen time can be problematic in itself, increasing the risk of living a sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, chronic diseases, depression, and anxiety. But turning away from television and focusing in on social media, we often feel as if we are engaging in meaningful interactions with others. In light of such compelling evidence, researchers suggest instead of plugging into social connections, we should focus attention on real world interactions to live a happier, healthier life. So how can you start disconnecting with Facebook to connect more with your health and others? While a simple click of the button to logout, doing so may not be so easy for everyone. Taking the steps to a digital detox may be your answer.
However, it is important to highlight Facebook is not the bully itself, but simply how people choose to use it. Its users should be aware of and understand the potential repercussions of Facebook and do not allow it to stand it in your way of productivity. Additionally, while on Facebook, do not self-compare. Most people share highlights of their lives and often dismiss the tribulations they also face. Ultimately, compare yourself with no one other than you, aiming to be the best version of yourself to attract more meaningful and social connections with likeminded people!