Social media is officially worse than gastro

Social media has some good qualities. It’s a great way to stay connected with (stalk) people you don’t always see in real life and to organise events, and it offers great inspiration for future holiday ideas when you’re breezily (enviously) clicking through your friends’ vacation snaps.

But that’s about where the good times stop.

Because social media is also a huge time vampire. It steals your time so subtly that it’s 1am before you realise you could have watched a feature-film in the time you were mindlessly devouring fitspo images on Instagram…


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But even worse still, it’s also actually pretty bad for our health – mentally.

Earlier this year, the largest study of its kind (featured in the Journal of Epidemiology) was released on the correlation between Facebook usage and a decrease in mental wellbeing.

The study’s authors, Holly B. Shakya and Nicholas A. Christakis, analysed data from over 5,200 subjects.

The results were hardly surprising: Facebook is about as good for our health as a generous serving of chicken curry that has been left on the bench overnight.

“Our results showed that overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being,” Shakya and Christakis reported.

Their research backs up a study by the Happiness Institute in Denmark, who asked almost 1,100 participants to quit Facebook for a week.

Participants reported that they felt happier and more satisfied with their social life, while also feeling less sad, less distracted and 55 per cent less likely to be stressed, than those who regularly use Facebook.

So if using social media is like eating spoilt chicken – i.e. it impacts our health in a negative way – then why do we keep doing it?

I have no idea. If we eat spoiled food and get gastro as a result, we sure think twice before going near a chicken curry again. Why don’t we heed this lesson when it comes to our mental health?

If social media ill-health a problem for you, the answer could be as simple as quitting. If the mere idea of deactivating your accounts is giving you heart palpitations, then maybe a detox is a better baby step.

Either way, one thing is certain: social media is not a path to happiness or joy, so we should quit expecting it to be.