For many of us, social media is part of our everyday lives. But for many valid reasons, some people no longer find fulfillment or pleasure in being active on social media. In fact, about 13-66% of teenagers and young adults suffer from depression because they spend too much time on social media. Lately, many are seeking healthy alternatives to social media. Moving forward requires us to replace our existing bad habits with new ones.
What is the way out? Being socially active is supposed to improve mental health and wellbeing, so why are the leading platforms (intended to create healthy social connections) leading to depression and isolation?
The 5 biggest problems associated with social media are highlighted below:
On Social Media today, more than 50% of active users only post just their success stories - either real or unreal.
Other people online who are yet to attain such a lifestyle always feel inadequate about their current life when they view such posts. It’s natural to compare ourselves to others in order to build self-esteem; it has a profoundly negative effect on our self-image when we are bombarded with elaborate fabrications, staged settings, fake filters, inflated follower counts, and more.
This is one of the major problems with social media today that most people don’t even recognize.
Next, it is so easy to hide behind a social media account to bully and insult other people at will. In contrast to the real world, there are no adverse consequences. It’s especially problematic on social networks that don’t regulate authenticity or prevent fake users.
People regularly get away with it everyday, and their intentions are usually unknown. In essence, cyberbullying is an inescapable part of social media platforms today, and it is a serious problem.
The best solution is to avoid apps that elevate sensational responses. Instead, try to gravitate toward platforms that discredit and de-prioritize hateful commentary. Most importantly it’s best to stop using apps which lack a focus on real-world interactions and genuine offline connection.
Unfortunately, the amount of social media followers a person has can create a direct correlation with one’s self-worth, validation, and acceptance on the internet.
It is commonly believed that someone with a small number of followers has a low voice on the internet and is hardly ‘heard’ . People run the race of gaining followers on social media so they can feel ‘heard’. The truth is, you would be surprised how many accounts buy followers.
Most of the time this is disproportionate to reality. In fact, many seek out a follower count online to mask the fact that their social life is lacking. This causes their actual social life and mental health to decline even further.
People who invest a significant amount of time in social media have no real-life connection with the people they interact with. Most connections are people they have never met face to face.
For this reason, many people regard the activities on social media as unreal. In recent years it has quickly developed into an entertainment space rather than a social space. This is primarily the reason that platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok are shifting their business model toward short-form video and eventually virtual reality.
For those who use social media to ‘socialize’ and be happy, they instead experience the reverse effect. The phrase “social media” has taken on new meaning in recent years, and a void has been left behind in its place. People are seeking community elsewhere.
The combination of some or all of social media’s problems listed above leads to depression and mental health issues.
As research shows, it is clear that social media today has a negative impact on our mental health, and it offers very little real-life connection with people.
Rather than being down and out, let’s discuss some possible solutions. The following list includes healthy alternatives to social media. For many, it’s time to make a change and start to see the world from a healthier, happier, more fulfilling perspective.
In this follow up to "Healthy Alternatives to Social Media: The Problem", we’ll highlight solutions and alternative platforms that do not harm our mental well-being, and instead offer real-life connections with local people and businesses.
We will consider alternate activities we can engage in and ways to use community building platforms to stay connected with other members of our local communities and networks. Here are 5 healthy alternatives to social media.
BeReal is less of a social media platform and more of a solution to stay connected with friends and family who don’t live nearby. It’s great for daily check-ins to be authentic and let people know what’s going on right here right now.
For anyone who wishes to stay connected with old friends who have moved away or family members that don’t live nearby, BeReal is great for just that. It helps to validate our self-esteem and help us to feel like we are still being ‘heard’ and ‘seen’. Most importantly, it encourages users to be themselves and share an authentic snapshot of their day-to-day lives.
Another healthy alternative to social media is listening to podcasts.
One study shows that listening to Podcasts stimulates mental imagery more intensely than watching or reading. It also causes listeners to pay more attention over longer periods of time.
It is proven that listening to podcasts generally improves your mental well-being. Improving your cognitive ability and listening skills will also lead to more fulfilling conversations as you navigate and build local networks and meet new friends.
How do you find podcasts to listen to? Well, there are several platforms where you can find Podcasts in just about any niche that you enjoy.
Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts are two of the most prominent platforms. Simply download the apps on your mobile and search for any topic that relates to you.
One major cause of depression is being alone and lonely. A remedy to that is associating with people, but it is easier said than done in this post pandemic age. Knowing how beneficial it can be for our mental health is a great way to get motivated to get out there.
Attending in-person events is another healthy alternative to social media because it improves our mental health and promotes a healthy perspective.
Here are a few apps that can help you discover nearby events so you can connect with real people in safe spaces: Meetup, Therr, EventBrite, TicketMaster, and Gametime.
Most social media platforms today do not help you connect with real people for personal or business purposes outside of the platform. Instead, they focus on increasing your time spent on the app. They also encourage more shallow connections and don’t lead to continued future engagement. It may be better for your mental health to seek out new connections in the local community. Enter local social media, and see what you are missing.
One solution for a more local-first social outlook is to use local, community centric platforms like Therr app, Foursquare City App, or Snapchat. These platforms have a business model that encourages you to merge your digital network with your real-world connections and interactions. The nice thing about Therr is that it is 100% focused on creating and improving local connections. The company earns revenue from local businesses when you enter a local event or store. It is also a safe way to explore a community and see all that it has to offer before jumping right in.
These types of local-first social networking apps incentivize you to spend less time and energy shouting into the ether, and more time engaging with people locally who share common interests.
These healthy alternatives to generic social media are a great way to connect with real people and organizations. They reduce your odds of feeling depressed, and they help support locally sourced products and services.
You would be surprised how many opportunities there are to join a local club or organization. Local groups could include anything from pickup sports to community service or obscure interests. Most universities have a public forum where you can learn about different local clubs, and most cities promote local organizations through local news or online forums.
Forums are not like generic social media platforms where people are hyper focused on follower count and social clout. Instead they focus more on headlines, opinions, and public communications.
If you are seeking healthy alternatives to social media, you should be on forums like Reddit and Quora where you can join local channels and frequently read about upcoming events and meetups. You should also set your news preferences to local news to keep up with the changes in nearby communities.
Social media as it is today is just a platform where people publish brief updates about their life in the hope that people interact with or engage with their posts. The focus is on content and media of any sort.
A social network, on the other hand, is a place where people actually connect with each other whether online or in the real world.
Let’s be honest; in today’s world, we need more social networks and less social media. Not only this, but we need ways to build stronger connections.
Therefore, everyone should prioritize real connections with people around them including friends and family, over chasing big followers count. We hope you have gained some insights about the variety of opportunities in your local community just waiting for you to reach out.
All in all, social media platforms today have obvious problems, and the most impactful on society are depression and mental health issues.
As a solution, we shared 5 healthy alternatives to social media that we highly recommended:
Let’s all focus more on social connections with real people rather than competing on social media platforms. This will most definitely have a better impact on our mental health and help drive society at large to a more prosperous future.
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