Why do I feel lonely even though I am connected to so many people on social media?
Although, it seems that we are connected to so many people in the virtual world, several of us are constantly comparing ourselves with others’ lives on social media. And while doing that we may be prone to presume that their lives are better or cooler than ours giving us a sense of dissatisfaction. We sometimes go out of our ways to seek validation through ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ of others by creating idealized images. Excessive concern about being negatively evaluated on these platforms can cause us significant distress.
Excessive social media usage has not only been related to distractibility and sleep disturbances, but can also contribute to feelings of isolation by constant comparisons with others’ reports. Research has shown that increased use of social media platforms can exclude people from engaging in social activities in the real world and steer them into loneliness. This can further create a vicious cycle of unhealthy pattern of internet use and withdrawal from the people around us.
We need to remember that it is not just the number of connections that affect our online relationships, but their quality plays an important role as well in our psychological well-being. We may be connecting to others easily on social media, but we need to take care that we are not disconnected from the ‘real’ world around us. Investing time on constructive and expressive activities and engagements in the real world not just add to our sense of meaningfulness in life but also reduce the dependencies on approvals via social media for maintaining our self-esteem.
By Ms. Prachi Sanghvi, Clinical Psychologist,
PhD Scholar, NIMHANS