ALEKS NAKOVIKJ, North Macedonia


Social media is a revolutionary internet platform that has drastically altered people’s perceptions of the world and has become an integral part of our society. As technology evolves and expands, social media is becoming an essential tool for daily social interaction. The fact that nearly 2.65 billion people use social media on the internet – and that number is expected to grow in the coming years, demonstrates the importance of social media in our world. Social media has provided numerous benefits to our society; however, it has had a significant negative impact on the youth.

People have lost sight of reality in the age of the social media. We humans are social creatures. The ability to connect with others has a significant impact on our daily lives and wellness, which is one of the essential components that enables us to thrive. Being socially active reduces stress, depression, and anxiety; it also boosts self-esteem; it gives one a sense of security; and it keeps one from feeling lonely. For instance, the longest study on human social life revealed that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

However, the social connection is vanishing as a result of our human consumption of social media, which has a negative impact on our mental and emotional well-being, on how we interact and live, and has ushered in the age of social media during the past few decades.  


Although we are all aware that the stuff we view on social media is filtered, altered, and/or controlled, it nevertheless affects how we feel. On social media, the sickness of perfection is constantly propagated. Life has its highs and lows, but on social media, everyone only posts the highlights, which can make young people feel uneasy about how they look and how their lives are going. Everyone leads a fake life. Large lips, oversized bodily parts, and unattainable standards. Even though everyone advocates for authenticity, they are all striving to conform. If you don’t publish about your whereabouts, activities, vacations, outings, and other events these days, it’s as if they never happened. We have lost sight of what life is like because we are so focused on spending our lives online.


We require face-to-face interaction because we are social creatures, but when people connect electronically, it’s a different story. Isolation and loneliness are fueled by social media use, and vice versa. Social media networks like Instagram and Facebook appear to make people feel inferior and as like everyone is living a better life than they are. FOMO has been around far longer. The feeling that you are lacking something can lower your self-esteem, cause anxiety and tension, and increase your usage of social media or make you feel more alone. When we worry that we are losing out on a lot, we often become distracted and use our phones continually to check for new postings and notifications rather than attempting to do something engaging and healthy for us.


The current generation spends less time interacting with their peers in person since they live in a virtual world than previous generations that had access to little or no social media. People don’t feel emotionally gratified by this type of virtual connection, and instead feel lonely and disconnected. Anxiety appears to be intrinsically tied to the use of social media in some way, and a swath of recent articles appear to show that this link is one of the primary drivers of internet usage. Thus, despite being a relatively new form of technology, social media has been shown in several studies to significantly increase the risk of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal ideation.

These statistics demonstrate that although many people who use social media frequently experience anxiety, when they are not using it, they resort to social media to alleviate this “withdrawal” anxiety and end up experiencing a different type of anxiety as a result of using their digital platforms. This “double anxiety whammy” has demonstrable effects on mental health, and research even reveals that some people turn to alcohol to relieve tension when posting on social media.


Cyberbullying, understood as verbal and virtual violence targeted at people (usually teenagers and youth) through social networks, is yet another negative form of the social media. You could start to feel embarrassed, frightened, anxious, and uneasy about what people say or think about you when you are the victim of cyberbullying. This may result in withdrawal from friends and family, negative self-talk, regret about actions you took or did not take, or the perception that you are being unfairly judged. It’s usual to experience loneliness, overwhelm, frequent headaches, nausea, or stomachaches. You can get unmotivated to accomplish the things you typically like doing and have a sense of loneliness around the people you care about and trust. This could lead to persistently bad sensations and thoughts, which would be detrimental to your mental and physical health.

Another frequent consequence of cyberbullying is school absences, which can have an impact on young people’s mental health when they use substances like alcohol and drugs or violent behavior to cope with their emotional and physical suffering. The first step in receiving help can be talking to a friend, family member, or school counselor you trust. Depending on the media via which it occurs, cyberbullying’s consequences on mental health can change. For instance, bullying that occurs over text messages or through images or videos posted on social media has been shown to be particularly damaging for teenagers.


The effects of being an active social media user include comparison fatigue, fear of missing out, and discontent with reality. Social media, in all its grandeur, has encouraged people to become obsessed with themselves and how they appear online by introducing beauty trends and life standards. Without regard to our individual interests and passions, the evaluation of our online selves is based on the number of likes, comments, and followers we receive. Self-love and confidence are desirable qualities to have and may even be required for overcoming impossible standards. But because social media promotes self-consciousness, a lot of people end up bordering on narcissistic. Users are discovering that they spend a large portion of their waking hours online and that social media is only a click away when they want to be “influenced” or seek digital acceptance. Social media’s emphasis on success and attractiveness causes many people to question their own beauty, worth, and life decisions. People often focus only on themselves, how they are represented digitally, how many likes they receive, or how they can live up to our mediated society in order to feel validated online.


The overall results of the abovementioned studies indicate that young people who are suicidal and self-harming use social networking sites as a means of communication with people who are experiencing similar mental health problems in order to find social support. While some users receive encouraging words, others are given unfavorable advice, which increases the frequency of self-harm behaviors. The results also suggest that social networking websites play a role in increased exposure to and participation in self-harm behavior, as users are more likely to copy others’ online self-harming behavior, adopt self-harming behaviors from self-harm videos, or receive praise and approval from others, normalizing their own self-harming thoughts and actions. Higher psychological distress, unmet need for mental health help, and increased suicidal ideation were all linked to spending more time on social networking sites.


In conclusion, although social media have its advantages, they cannot fully replace face-to-face interaction. The paradox is that technology was created to unite people. But, in truth, social media has taken over our lives, making us feeling separated and alone and exacerbating mental health issues like anxiety and despair. Thus, as a result of the social media, young people’s mental health has suffered, and they are becoming an antisocial generation. The nature of social media is to reinforce. By producing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” connected to enjoyable pursuits like sex, eating, and social connection, using it activates the brain’s reward center. The platforms are linked to bodily problems like sadness and anxiety and are made to be addictive. Simply being told that using social media is bad for them, inspires people to make a change. It’s preferable for people to understand their limitations. Most social media users probably wouldn’t be able to give it up fully. However, we can and should keep an eye on our actions to determine how their use affects us and how to respond as a result.