Deepening Your Analysis
Have you ever imagined that social network sites could actually aid in identifying and even improving mental health issues? In the MedicalNewsToday newsletter, “Social Media: How Does it Affect Your Mental Health” by Honor Whiteman published June 2015, it is shown that despite the common misconception that social media is detrimental, it can actually spread joy and expression. Whiteman expresses that uplifting and positive social media posts can result in an overall spread of joy. Similar to seeing someone smile across the street, a positive message or picture on facebook can enliven many media users. Another point made by Whiteman is that social media can be a reliable way to pinpoint those who are struggling with mental illness
Personally, I have always viewed social media as a cynical and time-consuming distraction. Whiteman allowed me to view social media in an alternative light. By using examples, research and explanation Whiteman caused me to rethink how social media has positively impacted me personally as well as how it impacts society as a whole. I have rarely seen an article, news source, podcast, tv show etc. reference social media as being a positive contribution to mental health and overall happiness. Social media obviously was intended to be beneficial and it is reassuring to view a positive approach. Whiteman made me realize that media has caused many happy reactions and experiences within my life. Seeing an uplifting message, a funny picture, or even an entertaining video can cause genuine joy and fulfillment. With media being such a huge aspect in modern society I believe it is necessary to view both pros and cons.
One argument made by Whiteman that resonated with me was how social media has the potential to create a viral spread of happiness. Whiteman states that “A study, from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), suggests that using social media may even spread happiness.” Whiteman then adds that “We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative.” This explains that media sites can possibly be a place for spreading love, happiness and overall well-being. The research done by UCSD shows that happy posts cause others to post happy things and results in a train of happiness and contagious positivity. It is easy for me and others to be stuck reading and scrolling through negative new stories and social media posts. We, as a society, can make a conscious effort to post more uplifting things and ignore pessimistic platforms and media users. This argument made me realize that social media does have the potential to positively impact mental health and people’s daily moods.
Another portion of Whitemans article that caused me to rethink my ideas and beliefs toward social media is the idea that social media can help to identify mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Many people share a large portion of their lives on social media and often times it can be apparent when someone is struggling with a mental illness. It is stated in the article that “ People who shared fewer pictures on the site communicated less frequently, had a longer profile and fewer Facebook friends, and were more likely to experience social anhedonia — the inability to encounter happiness from activities that are normally enjoyable, such as talking to friends.” This is showing that media can be a useful tool in identifying mental states of those close to us. If someone has been posting gloomy tweets and hasn’t been posting their normal happy pictures on instagram it can be a red flag. The large involvement social media has in our nation can be a useful way to make sure those around us are happy and healthy.
All in all, Whitemans article provoked me to see media’s effects in an opposing light. Although not completely swayed, this article assisted me in viewing my topic from a different perspective.