Lost Connections – How ‘Social’ Media Makes Us Lonely – Johann Hari

Social media makes us feel good. Every like, upvote, heart and retweet gives us a little dopamine boost.

So while you get short term satisfaction from your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ these social media cues don’t provide the same benefits as spending time with people face to face, and being part of a close social group.

As a social animal we humans feel most comfortable with a strong peer group around us, and when this is removed and replaced with social media, it can lead to stronger feelings of depression and anxiety.

A city doctor was tasked with leading a group of dealing with mental health issues, and decided to trial getting them together as a group to start tending a shared garden. Being part of this new social group had a profound effect on its members. The reduction in stress and anxiety was higher than the effect of their prescribed medicine.

Forming a connection with people, and having friends who understand your issues, and support you when you’re down made all the difference to these people. Being outside, and having a helping hand in making/maintaining a garden also improved their mental state.

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed consider joining a club or starting a hobby. Meetup.com is a great place to find people nearby with similar interests to you.

Also consider taking a social media detox. Removing app shortcuts on your phone and browser, and turning off notifications can help. Without a constant stream of ‘likes’ you can better concentrate on your relationships with those around you, for a more balanced mental state.

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