In June 2017, the world’s most popular social media platform, Facebook, reached a momentous milestone – 2 billion worldwide users. It’s fair to say that 13 years after its launch, Facebook worldwide influence is gargantuan.
Mark Zukerberg, Chief Executive of Facebook, has clearly defined Facebook’s mission from the very beginning – to connect the world and bring people together. However, on closer inspection there is an uglier side to the overreliance on social media that Dubai residents have begun to feel the effects of.
The Disconnected and Depressed Generation
Recent studies by leading psychologists in UAE has found that social media overuse poses a risk to the mental health of teens and young adults.
Dr. Naser Al Riyami, Emirati psychologist and hypnotherapist, has openly commented on the link between depression and social media addicts, stating that social media influencers feel dependent on social media platforms. This can warp one’s sense of identity, appearance and lifestyle which can lead to depression and other mental health disorders.
As beneficial as social media platforms are for connecting friends and loved ones separated by great distances, that all-important personal, face-to-face interaction is non-existent. In effect, social media platforms manufacture connection rather than providing it.
Backlash and Bullying
Social media influencers can be valued greatly, even loved by their followers. However, they are also exposed to cyber-bullying. Just as playground bullies pray on people they’re able to exploit, cyber-bullies use social media to taunt, and in the worst cases, destroy the reputation of victims online.
Given the global nature of an online community, victim sense of fear, shame and upset is magnified exponentially. This drastically heightens the effects of bullying, and can even spill over into the lives of victims away from the computer.
Leading Dubai psychologists agree that persistent cyber-bullying does drastically affects victim’s perceptions of themselves. This can easily lead to a place of fear and depression, with many feeling that, online or offline there is simply no place to escape.
Social Withdrawal and Insomnia
Dr. Dolly Habbal, a clinical psychologist at Universal Hospital reiterates that social media addiction has become a serious problem in the UAE. She states that psychologists and psychiatrists agree that obsessive use of social media leads to social withdrawal, with users becoming preoccupied with spending their time self-entertaining, thereby neglecting daily activities.
She also pointed out that social media can disrupt sleep which is acknowledged as one of the key triggers of depression. Social media influencers can become very self-indulgent as most of their waking hours are spent thinking about themselves. This leads to an unhealthy perception of themselves, especially, once users begin to compare their lives to those of others online – which is hardly a true representation of what we all experience every day.
What’s clear is that there are distinct benefits to social media. But what cannot be ignored is the consequences and pitfalls of becoming too involved with one’s online life, and how quickly an overindulgence of social media can lead to depression and other mental health disorders.
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