Does using social media affect your emotions and negatively influence your mood?
Do you read a Facebook post and feel sad, frustrated, or disappointed?
Do you sometimes not even know why you feel a certain way after scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feeds?
In this post, I want to look at some of the ways social media can affect your emotions and negatively influence your mood.
While social media can be a great way of connecting, sharing, and communicating, it can also cause feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
This can be even worse for young people, but they are by no means the only people affected by it.
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Let me set the scene. You’re cruising around Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter and you see a particular image or update that triggers an emotional response.
Suddenly you feel upset (when a moment ago you felt just fine, thanks very much).
It might not even be a particular emotion that you are feeling, you might have a sense of unease, feel in a bad mood, or have a feeling of sadness wash over you.
You may start to feel anxious but not know why. You might be left in a bad mood (but not know exactly why).
Using social media can affect your emotions and trigger negative feelings for a range of different reasons.
Let’s look at some of those reasons and how you can deal with and process them.
1. Being left out of events (not being invited)
This is a big one when it comes to Facebook.
You’re feeling good, you jump on Facebook to take a look at what’s happening and see pictures of our friends enjoying an event and you think to yourself – why wasn’t I invited?
It might be a group of your friends, family, or work colleagues but it still leaves you with the same feeling – feeling left out.
Now just a heads up – you might not like the answer to this one but here we go.
Cold hard fact – you are not going to get invited to everything. That’s just life.
You can look at this one from a view different angles.
First up, sometimes we don’t get invited to things because people assume we will say no, so they simply don’t invite us. This can sometimes stem from past events and the fact that we have said no a lot in the past.
When I was working for myself, money was tight. I was on a strict budget and I had to say no to a lot of the invitations that came my way.
Over time, the invitations started drying up. When I went back to work for an employer again and I had money coming in, people still didn’t invite me.
If you are in a similar situation whether it be money-related or you are just out of a long-term relationship, start getting the word out that you are open to invitations.
You can do this subtly, if that works for you, or you could be more up-front about it.
Just remember, this doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everything either.
Next up, we need to understand that sometimes friends want to meet so they can discuss a problem with a particular person or a group of people.
Sometimes we might feel like a more intimate catch-up with fewer people involved.
Sometimes people feel like they need to catch up with a particular type of friend, for example, they might need someone to listen to them, someone to laugh with, or someone who will let them have a good cry.
Different people fulfill different roles for people (whether we like it or not).
The key to stopping this upsetting you is to stop taking things so personally. You won’t get invited to everything so accept that and move on.
Instead of expecting people to invite you – be the one doing the inviting.
Stop being passive and expecting people to invite you to catch up and be the initiator.
You may also benefit from meeting some new people and opening yourself up to more opportunities and different types of people. Consider joining a Meet Up group to connect with some new people.
When you do see your family and friends, you’ll have a lot more to talk about.
Related content –
- How to Stop Feeling Left Behind
- 5 Ways to Stop Taking Things Personally
- Do You Feel Invisible?
- Does it Feel Like Everyone is Moving Forward – Except You?
2. Fear of missing out
Perhaps you are being invited to events, perhaps that’s your problem. You are invited to so many things with so many people and you can’t possibly go to everything which means you are going to have to miss out on that party/concert/show that all popular people will be attending.
It’s not just about missing out on catch-ups and events, it’s about missing out on social interactions and missing that text message that we think is so important.
It’s one of the reasons why many of us are addicted to our mobile phones because we fear we might miss out on something.
The fear of missing out is making people anxious. This fear is stopping people from making real connections and from being in the moment.
If you are constantly on your phone, you’re actually missing out on the company of the people you are with.
The way to deal with this one is to accept that you miss things and you know what – that is a good thing.
Life isn’t about being involved in all the things. It’s about finding joy in the things that you are passionate about and that have meaning for you.
Not meaning for everyone else, but meaning and purpose for you.
I realize it’s a bit of an old-fashioned concept but think along the lines of quality over quantity.
Related posts –
3. Being ditched for a better offer
I had this happen to me recently and it felt awful.
I had plans with a friend to see a movie but then I received a text to say they were sick and couldn’t make it.
Imagine my surprise a couple of hours later when I saw her pop up in my Facebook feed having a great time laughing and driving around the city with some of her other friends. Talk about a miraculous recovery!
Clearly, my friend wanted to spend time with her other friends more than she wanted to catch up with me.
In cases like this, for your own protection, try to not take it personally. I know, I know it’s hard. The truth is this sort of behavior says a lot more about the other person than it does about you.
It’s important to point out, that while we all make mistakes and occasionally don’t treat our friends as well as we should, if your friend ditches you on a regular basis for a better offer, then it’s probably time to do some serious thinking about the value of that particular friendship.
Related post –
4. Happy smiley couples
If you are single and don’t want to be, or if you are part of a couple but your relationship isn’t going well seeing pictures of happy couples could definitely bring up some not-so-happy thoughts.
All of the smiling happy couples online can sometimes make us feel like everyone is loved up except us.
It also has us believing that those smiley happy couples always look smiley and happy.
Spoiler alert – They’re not. Always happy that is.
When you start thinking every couple is happier than you and you can only be happy if you are part of a couple, it’s
time to do a reality check.
Couples fight, couples argue, and couples sometimes nag each other. None of that shows up in the happy smiley photos.
When it all comes down to it, this one isn’t about the couples smiling. It’s about you not smiling enough yourself or feeling that you don’t have enough to smile about.
If this is the case you need to focus on finding more purpose and joy in your life.
It could be that what you are seeking is connection. You might be feeling disconnected and isolated from people. It’s not always about wanting a partner, it can be about wanting that deep connection with someone.
If you are single, this is where your best friends come in. Spend more time with the friend who loves you and always has your back. Dig deeper into your conversations with them. Talk about stuff that really matters. Small talk won’t fill your need for connection, so you may need to be open to feeling vulnerable. Of course, be there for your best friend in return.
5. Happy smiley perfect families
I spent Christmas Day last year by myself. Actually, that’s not true, I spent it with my beautiful fur baby which filled me with a great deal of love and joy.
While I was cool with the whole celebrating on my own thing, I did know myself well enough to avoid looking at Facebook because I knew it would be full of families celebrating Christmas.
The perfect family situation is very similar to the smiley couples. Families are an incredibly complex system of people. Every family has its own problems and issues. Issues and problems come in all different forms of intensity.
The other thing to remember is that families are not just about blood relatives. Our families, when it all comes down to it, are the people we love and connect with the most.
So if part of the reason you don’t like the smiley perfect family pictures and stories is because you don’t have blood relatives of your own that doesn’t mean you don’t have family.
Your best friends might be your family, your pets are part of your family. The people who nurture, care, and love you are your family.
Don’t go coveting the family that you don’t have, connect with the one that you do have, whatever that means for you.
6. Beautiful people
So many beautiful people on Instagram. Lots of thin, tanned, beautiful people in bikinis.
So, so many of them.
Pictures of beautiful ‘perfect’ (there’s that word again) people can definitely be an emotional trigger.
Do not compare yourself to these people.
There are so many reasons you should not compare yourself to these people. Here is a short but very important
- The image has been filtered or altered (read more about those here)
- The person doesn’t look like that when they get out of bed in the morning (think fake tan, fake hair, lots of
makeup, lighting, one great photo that took 100 bad photos to get just right)
- They don’t look that beautiful every minute of every day
- They could be extremely hungry because they haven’t had a decent meal in ages!
- They could be incredibly unhappy
- Their beauty doesn’t reflect on yours. You don’t get less beautiful because someone is in your eyes, more beautiful.
Read my know your own beauty series if you are struggling in this area.
7. Look what I just bought
This one is all about material possessions. It’s about money and sometimes the power that people associate with money.
We’ve all seen the images and words that scream – look at the beautiful car, house, boat, watch, or expensive thingy I just bought.
This can trigger emotions in us.
Someone just bought something expensive and fancy and you can’t afford to buy the expensive fancy thing or you simply don’t have one and want one.
While it’s about money, it can also be about ego.
It can also be about competition and wanting to be better than other people.
When it comes to money and power, looks can be very deceiving.
For instance, you have no idea if that person is drowning in debt to buy that shiny object. You don’t know if they have to work weekends for the next year to be able to pay it off.
You don’t know if people feel trapped by their decisions and choices when it comes to money.
You don’t know if they are only buying the shiny object for the sole reason of feeling better about their crappy lives.
This is where you need to drop your ego and ditch being impressed by expensive shiny things.
This is where you need to ask yourself some important questions.
- Why are you jealous of someone buying a new expensive car?
- Is it because you like that particular model of car and have been dreaming about buying one yourself or is it because you feel bad about yourself because your car isn’t as nice?
- Do you have a car but hate it because you feel that it isn’t good enough for you?
I saw an excellent quote the other day, that sums things up nicely.
You might get 85 years on this planet – don’t spend 65 paying off a lifestyle you can’t afford.” – Cait Flanders
8. Travel and grand adventures
As a traveler, I can relate to this one.
Seeing people traveling all over the world, when you haven’t been anywhere lately yourself can be a bit of a downer.
If you haven’t had a holiday in ages and are desperate for a break then looking at people’s happy snaps can definitely set off some emotions.
Most likely you will feel jealous or envious. You might feel frustrated at yourself.
This one is fairly easy to fix.
In saying that, before you book a trip somewhere, it’s important to ask yourself why you are comparing yourself and feeling bad at someone else going on an adventure, in case there is some hidden meaning that is the real culprit that you need to deal with.
You don’t want to go traveling, just because it’s something that you think looks good to other people. If that’s the case, then travel is just another shiny object that you are trying to impress people with.
If you work through your feelings and realize that it is time to book an adventure, then go for it.
Related post – How to Save for Your Dream Holiday
9. Seeing pictures of your ex
Ah the ex. There is nothing like seeing pictures of your ex with their new partner or kiddies or whatever the case may be.
Our exes can be huge emotional triggers, particularly if becoming an ex isn’t all that long ago.
First up when it comes to your ex, if seeing them on social media upsets you in any way, then stop following them.
Unfriend and unfollow. Right Now. Head off and do it NOW but make sure you come back! I’ll wait for you. 🙂
If seeing pictures of them upsets you, you are just torturing yourself and you need to stop. You have much more productive things to do with your time (like work on your goals and be the best version of yourself).
If you are still heartbroken, work on healing and mending your broken heart. Healing yourself should be your number 1 priority. Knowing your worth and self-care should be a priority and following your ex on social media is NOT a part of self-care. It’s completely the opposite.
The point I am trying to make is that all of your focus and love needs to be on you. Not on them.
If you need help getting over someone, seek help from a professional. This doesn’t have to mean years in therapy.
Years ago, I was struggling with getting over a breakup and I took myself off to see a counselor. It was through one of those employee assistance programs where the company pays for you to speak to someone if you are having work-related or personal problems. If you have a service like this available to you, I highly suggest you utilize the service.
At the time I remember feeling weak for needing to speak to someone professionally (this was before I started on my personal growth mission) but I realized it’s not weakness. It takes strength and courage to ask for help. I had one meeting with the counselor and it helped me tremendously.
9. The success story
If you are a blogger or business person and spend time on Pinterest, you will probably have experienced the success story emotional trigger at some point!
It might even be a regular occurrence, particularly if your own blogging or business journey is going through a bit of a rough patch.
My favorite emotional triggers are the income reports where bloggers share how much money they make each month. When you aren’t making much money yourself or you have been blogging for ages and someone started blogging two months ago and they are raking in the cash, it can sting a little.
If you are not a blogger or business person, simply substitute the success story to which you can relate.
You might be a cook, doing up your house, or working your way up the corporate ladder or you might be a stay at home Mum.
The truth of this one is there is always going to be people more successful than you and there is always going to be people less successful than you.
Success itself can be like a roller coaster, it goes up and down, with twists and turns.
Of course, the other thing to factor in is that people have their own version of success.
Social media is full of success stories where everyone has it all figured out.
What they often don’t show or perhaps they show it, but only as one part of the picture, is all the failure that led to success.
Failure is part of success but we tend to keep those pictures and stories more under wraps. Until we are a roaring success, of course, then we tell everyone how we did it, while downplaying the truly hard parts.
If you are actually trying to keep up with the Kardashians, you are definitely in trouble.
I use this as an example because it’s popular (though I have to confess I’ve never watched an episode of the show).
The point I’m trying to make is that you should not be comparing yourself to celebrities. You should not be trying to keep up with anyone!
You are yourself and you should be proud of that!
I’m not saying you can’t look up to people or admire them for their work, craft, or contribution. That’s all admirable but if you are obsessed with wanting to be like a celebrity or you are walking into the plastic surgeon’s office wanting to look like someone else then you have gone too far.
Not only do we get obsessed with wanting to be more like a celebrity, we can also go a bit crazy criticizing them and trying to bring them down a peg or two (as my Mum used to say).
Celebrities are just people. Normal people like you and me who have more exciting jobs or lifestyles. I use the word might on purpose, because their jobs may not be anywhere as exciting as we suspect.
I have a confession. I used to be big into celebrity news and gossip. These days, I follow people I admire in the personal growth and self-development fields. I follow people who inspire me, motivate me, and make me a better person.
Less fluff, less superficiality, less judgment, less gossip – makes for a happier, more content person. I’m definitely not saying you need to cut admiring celebrities out of your life completely but be more mindful of how you are spending your precious time and energy.
Get busy with the unfollow button and cut back on your celebrity gossip. Focus on what is important to YOU and stop caring about what the latest celebrity is doing.
11. The numbers
As a blogger numbers can sometimes be an emotional trigger on social media.
I actually fell into this trap recently. I was on Pinterest when I noticed a blogger I admired had 12,000 followers. I was surprised and if I am being honest a bit upset. I realized she started years after I had and yet she had a lot more followers.
I went into one of those, what’s wrong with me, what am I doing wrong, I suck at this spirals!
Luckily it lasted about 5 minutes and I got back to work and forgot all about it. I use the word luckily, but the truth is luck had nothing to do with it.
Over the years, I have been working very hard not to get bogged down in comparing myself to other people.
What would’ve happened if I hadn’t been able to get out of that spiral?
I might have decided to quit blogging altogether.
What if I was still obsessing about it and couldn’t get any work done? What if I started looking at the other areas of my life and started comparing those as well?
This very thing is happening to people, the bad feelings are sticking around, often for a very long time.
We’ll look more at how to deal with these feelings below, so keep reading.
12. The bad stuff
There can be a lot of sad and heartbreaking stories on Facebook.
If you are a sensitive person (which I am), this may cause you to feel sad or upset.
Whether we realize it or not, we all have our individual emotional triggers. For example, animal suffering is one of my personal triggers. Seeing a starving polar bear or a mistreated elephant is extremely upsetting for me and those images stay with me for a long time.
It’s important that you know yourself and know what you should be watching and reading.
It’s important to know what you should be avoiding and what images you will find upsetting.
It’s about being selective about what you consume.
This isn’t about being ignorant about what is going on in the world or not trying to do anything to make this planet a better place.
It’s about protecting yourself and your energy.
Related post – 10 Things Being a Sensitive Person Has Taught Me About Life
When it comes to social media affecting your emotions, here are some things to consider.
Examine your timing
Are there certain times of the day when you feel more tired, vulnerable, or stressed? Are there times of the day when you feel most energized?
I’ll use myself as an example. I feel the most energized in the mornings.
Because mornings are an important time for me, I made the decision to rarely check social media in the morning.
I want my mornings to be a positive energy space and I therefore protect that space.
Perhaps there is a particular time of day you struggle with? Maybe coming home after work or late at night is a time when you might feel more vulnerable.
These are the times to stay off social media. Instead do something productive, fun, or both with your time.
Connect with friends and family in person.
If you are going through a rough patch, that’s the time to surround yourself with nurturing and self-care, not constant social media. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid social media, it might just mean you need to limit following people, pages, or companies that make you feel negative. Instead, sign up for websites and pages that help you to feel more motivated.
Look through the pages and people you are following on social media and see if your list needs culling. Look for positive, inspiring additions.
While we are talking about social media and time, here’s another question for you.
How much time do you spend on social media every day?
If you are a person who constantly has their mobile in their hand and checks it regularly, I bet it’s a LOT.
Multiply your daily hours by a week, then a month, then by a year. If you watch a lot of television as well as spend a lot of time on social media, that is a huge chunk of your time (life) that you are wasting.
If you are spending too much time on social media, it’s time to cut back.
Set yourself a time limit each day and stick to it. Find other healthy, positive interests that you are passionate about instead.
Get honest with yourself about your ‘why’
Why do you put certain images and stories on social media?
- Do you put photos on social media so that you can impress other people?
- Are you trying to make people jealous?
- Are you fishing for compliments and admiration?
- Are you seeking attention?
- Are you trying to prop up your sense of self-worth?
We are all human and we all have egos. Having an ego isn’t the problem.
It’s when we head to social media seeking external validation that can be the problem. The problem is when we need people to tell us we are loveable, beautiful, or worthy.
Often the very reason we want and need the outside validation is because we don’t have enough internal validation.
Internal validation is the one that truly matters.
Internal validation is the one that makes us happy and joyful even when life isn’t going that great.
The brutal truth is your family, friends (or a thousand people on social media) can tell you that you are a wonderful, beautiful person but if you don’t believe in yourself, you won’t believe them.
You have to know your worth.
Knowing your worth is internal validation. By worth, I’m not talking about money, I’m not talking about what you earn for a living.
Knowing your worth is about your self-worth.
It’s about knowing you deserve love and that you are good enough, despite the bad times and hardships.
Books that can help build your self-worth –
- How to Stop Feeling Like Sh*t: 14 Habits That Are Holding You Back from Happiness by Andrea Owen
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
- Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?: Everyday Tools for Life’s Ups and Downs by Dr. Julie Smith
Related posts –
- Know Your Own Worth
- Know Your Worth – 10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
- Don’t Let Anyone Else Define Your Worth
- Know Your Own Worth – Even When it Feels Like the World Doesn’t Quite Agree with You
Get your focus back where it belongs
If social media is making you feel sad, anxious, or stressed on a regular basis, you are focusing on all the wrong things.
You need to focus on your goals, dreams, and personal growth.
You need to be focusing on moving yourself forward each and every day.
If you don’t have them already, set some goals and put in the work to achieve them. Self-discipline and learning to have more control over your emotions and self-talk are what’s going to make your life move forward in positive, amazing ways.
We are all human. We all have those moments when we see something on social media that triggers an emotional response.
These feelings are perfectly okay (and perfectly human) as long as they are fleeting. They are okay as long as they don’t affect you as a person or affect the decisions you make.
You need to be able to learn how to move through any negative feelings brought on by using social media.
Social Media is a tool and like any other tool, it’s how you use it that counts. It’s how and why you use social media that makes the difference.
Remember you are in control. Don’t let social media control you or your emotions.
Make social media fun, entertaining, and a way to connect. Use it to enhance your life, make a positive difference in the world, and help you achieve your true potential.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it on social media. It might just stop someone feeling bad about themselves today.
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