Social Media In Times Of Distress

LAKSHMI on September 01, 2016

Social media is a fertile ground for interpersonal interaction. It provides access, not only to supportive individuals but also support networks and knowledge needed to combat/cope with distress. Given that strong interpersonal ties are known to provide emotional support, can social media apps help us tide over emotionally difficult periods?

  • A study by Pew Research found that internet users experienced significant support through social networks, particularly through Facebook.
  • Short term use of Facebook has been characterized by high positive valence, while Facebook has been known to trigger invidious emotions such as jealousy and envy. 
  • Social media users who consume the highest amounts of content report a decrease in social bonding and an increase in loneliness
  • Twitter was found to be an effective medium for communication by individuals with mental disorder and feedback to mental health service providers.
  • The “ReDefTie” (“Redefining Tie Strength”) project shows that social media makes people less lonely, less stressed and less satisfied with their life.
  • Social media has been known to trigger the release of the feel-good brain chemicals, dopamine and oxytoxin, which during times of distress can be a source of comfort.
  • Social media foments the grieving process and “sets it within the context of a community that comes together and says you are not alone.”

The generally accepted notion that social media is bad for emotional well-being is upended in times of distress. During traumatic times, it cannot be denied that social media can foster the emotional support so critically needed. 

This is an excerpt from our article on HuffingtonPost. For an in-depth look, read the full version here.

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