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.
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