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Social media is a good thing that we use to share information, keep up with friends and indulge in the occasional showcase of what we’re doing. However, it can be turned into something negative, and fast.

MUST READ: WE DON’T CARE: 5 Irksome Reasons You Should Keep Your Relationship Off Social Media

Judging by how health professionals are now intensely studying the adverse effects social media can have, it is time to take those effects seriously. The following are a few common ways that social media can possibly traumatize you.

1. Obsessing over a lover or an ex

Don’t put your (love) business on Facebook. Just don’t do it. Studies show that in the transcripts of up to a third of divorce proceedings, “Facebook” showed up. This is a reality check that maybe we’ve taken our social presence too far. And yes, we all might think, “This could never happen to me.” But don’t we always think that until it does?

The psychology of visually seeing someone you care for deeply going on without you is bad for your emotional health if you’re not over that person. If push comes to shove, delete him just so you can deal with the emotional hurt the old-fashioned way: By staying away from him and taking care of yourself.

2. Comparison

“Comparison,” someone once said “is the the theft of joy.” Ain’t that the truth? One thing that you need to become okay with doing in your life , is cutting people who make you feel like you’re not enough. Cut them out online and otherwise. You need to actively limit the amount of time you spend in a place, if it is making you miserable. There you are, hate-scrolling through another person’s virtual reality when you only know what they want you to know. There is a very real chance of you getting into a state of clinical depression or anxiety because of the way in which you engage in social media.

3. Online experiences versus the “real world”

It is truly creepy how much we can get to know (or assume) about people just by looking at their social media presence. And sometimes this means when we interact with them in real life, we forget that we don’t actually know them.  That aside, social media is actually changing the way our brains engage and process experiences. The interaction online can trick us into thinking those account for “real” experiences. That’s all well and good until you consider that this might affect our abilities to decipher between our digital experiences and real world experiences. Are we really comfortable with intertwining the two?

4. “Likes” affect your self-esteem and self-perception

Self-esteem is important for mental health and plays a major role in whether a human being is motivated. Motivation is the reason why you get up in the morning and do things. It may seem subconscious, but it is a very real aspect of being a functioning, well-adjusted human being. Some health studies have shown is that there is a strong link between someone’s self perception on their social media and their self-esteem. That might mean that people get highs from positive interaction such as lots and lots of likes on a posted picture. Alternatively, you actually feel bad if you post a picture and it doesn’t receive as many likes as you think it “should.” If your negative interactions outweigh your positive ones, you could overall experience a devalued self-esteem over time. That is serious business.

5. Keeping it real can go wrong

One of the great tragedies that has made its way into social media recently is this feeling that unless you are telling people every last sordid detail of your life, then you’re not keeping it real and being honest. But our personal lives don’t only affect us, they affect our loved ones. So whether you’re engaging in constant shaming or humiliation or you are simply unable to keep things sacred, take note that you are destroying your sense of privacy, and potentially destroying your relationships with family, friends and employers (current and future).

So take care with social media. It’s a tool. And like any tool, it can be used wisely or it can be used dangerously. How are you using it?

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