Social media use, negative social comparison, and suicidal ideation
It goes without saying that social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook tend to incite negative social comparisons. Negative social comparison is when an individual believes they're not doing as well as others. With the visual flamboyance we see on the gram, it's not difficult to see why that is. It's almost like everyone is happy and living their best life except you.
But if the effect ends with the negative comparisons, it would have been a tad better. A study in Psychology of Popular Media shows that young people who feel bad about themselves after comparing themselves with others on social media are more likely to consider suicide.
The researchers conducted the study by surveying 456 college students and measuring their levels of negative social comparison, suicidal ideation, and thwarted belongingness. (Thwarted belongingness is the feeling of being alienated from others and is a leading cause of suicidal ideation.) Results showed a direct link between negative social comparison on social media platforms and suicidal ideation. What's more, the link was even stronger on Instagram.
These findings are a reminder of how one's mental health can be heavily influenced by their social media use. But even more importantly, this study underscores the need to address negative social comparison on social media sites, especially Instagram.
If this resonates with you, it's helpful to realize that comparing yourself with others, especially those on social media, is never healthy. People only capture their best moments and post them on the gram. Evaluating your life based on such a benchmark is never good, as they don't show you the full picture of their own lives.
And if you're currently battling depression or nursing suicidal thoughts, please come talk to me. I can help.