Work on Your Wellness: Social Media
LinkedIn was launched in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Reddit in 2005, and Twitter in 2006. Since then, social media has evolved to become a part of everyday routine for millions of people across the world. Individuals use it for social and professional networking. Businesses use social media to reach target audiences and market their services and products.
Social media is primarily user-created. Technology companies set up and maintain the platforms on which users engage with each other and share content. It can be a useful tool for staying connected and making new connections. Many use it judiciously with a sense of purpose and benefit. Yet social media use has the potential to become problematic if one gets too emotionally connected.
Ultimately, social media is largely what each one makes of it. How we approach and use social media determines whether it can work for us or end up being a waste of time and a cause of some distress. Indeed, social platforms enable people to stay in touch with those they know, reconnect with people they’ve lost touch with over the years, as well as make new connections.
Despite what you may have heard, there are no conclusive scientific studies that indicate that social media is the cause of negative mental health outcomes, such as anxiety and depression.
Popular social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Slack, Discord, and WhatsApp. Many tech professionals also use Reddit, a social news website. LinkedIn is an online network for professional networking, career building, learning, sharing business content, and generating ideas. Social networks that serve the IT industry include Spiceworks and Stack Overflow.
Wellness Benefits of Social Media
Moderate and routine use of social media may contribute to an improved sense of social and mental well-being in some users. An article in Medical News Today quotes Dr. Jacob T. Fisher, assistant professor at the University of Illinois, Urban Champaign, who suggests that, “the best way for people to use social media is to use it intentionally.”
Fisher goes on to advise, “Curate who you follow, how much time you spend on the platform(s), etc., and do your best to cultivate a healthy relationship with the platforms you use.”
Social media doesn’t have the same effect on every user. Individuals using the same platform will experience different outcomes. You might want to analyze how engaging on social media makes you feel. For example, if your daily Facebook routine gives you a sense of social well-being, it might make sense to keep using it with intention.
Healthy engagement on social media might contribute to helping some people:
Overcome feelings of loneliness
Long workdays can keep one from meeting relatives and friends often. While this doesn’t necessarily make everyone feel lonely, it could have an adverse effect on those who need social support. Connecting virtually with family and close friends regularly might help one deal with feelings of loneliness.
Develop a healthier lifestyle
Engaging on social media with healthier friends and co-workers who exercise regularly, or don’t smoke or drink excessively, can motivate some users to change their behavior and move to a healthy lifestyle. Joining groups of colleagues or friends who have similar lifestyle goals can help one eat healthy, keep to a regular fitness routine, quit smoking, or cut down on drinking.
Deal with work-related dissatisfaction and stress
Sites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as niche networks, enable tech professionals to expand their professional network, connect with inspiring people, learn and solve problems, and stay abreast of the latest developments in one’s profession and industry. This can help one develop a different approach to handling issues and managing stress, or move to a different company.
Social Media Positives
Positive aspects differ according to the platform one uses. Each platform has a different emphasis. For example, LinkedIn enables professionals to expand their network, connect with ex-colleagues as well as make plenty of new connections, achieve increased professional visibility, and advance their careers.
The popular business and social networking site Twitter offers opportunities to connect with inspiring achievers in your field or one that you’re looking to enter. Social networking apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, on the other hand, are useful for keeping in touch with family and friends, or connecting with people who have similar interests or beliefs, and sharing content.
In addition to enabling people to engage often with those they know, social media accounts and profiles facilitate professional networking.
Social Media Negatives
Preoccupation with social media can lead to problems. One should be mindful that social media use doesn’t interfere with work performance or normal life. Obsessive use of social media can distract one from work and affect performance.
Missing regular exercise because one would rather spend time on social media can be harmful for health. Getting into the habit of staying up late to mindlessly scroll through social media content and losing out on much-needed sleep is another unhealthy outcome.
Too Much Social Media?
Many experts are of the view that it is how one uses social media rather than the amount of time spent that influences outcomes. Social media use might contribute to negative outcomes for some users if they develop an emotional attachment to social media.
If you keep comparing yourself with people you see on Facebook and other sites, and frequently experience feelings of inadequacy, you could be emotionally invested in social media and might want to modify your approach. Instead of mindlessly using social media, it could be helpful to use it intentionally. This can prevent one from wasting time or experiencing negative emotions.
Feeling isolated and disconnected from reality might be a sign that you’re giving more importance to social media than your everyday world. Some users get into the habit of logging in every few minutes lest they miss out on something, or get upset if social media use is restricted and they are unable to connect with friends several times a day. In such cases, it’s necessary to develop skills to regulate one’s behavior.
Which Social Media Is Right for You?
To select suitable social media, you need to know what you want from social media. Professionals might use social media for a number of reasons, including:
Keeping in touch with relatives and friends whom one doesn’t meet often
Expanding one’s professional network
Learning from more experienced people in your area of work
Deriving inspiration for innovative projects, sharing work, solving problems
There are some niche sites, such as Stack Overflow, which is a question and answer platform for programmers, both professionals and enthusiasts. Many IT professionals and technology businesses use Spiceworks, an online community of tech workers and companies. This professional network offers IT pros the opportunity to get to know about new technologies, exchange tips and advice, and purchase tech services and products.
Networking with those that have common interests and hobbies
Social media can help you a build a micro-community with other who enjoy such hobbies and interests as running, Hatha yoga, walking, cooking, and many other activities.
Selecting the right social media platforms is quite straightforward if you have a clear purpose for being on social media. Doing some research on the different social platforms out there in order to know their forms and uses can help you select the most suitable platforms.