Social Media Makes People Unhappy

RUSH: One of my big stated concerns, fears, worries about social media… When I remind you of this, many of you are gonna say, “Oh, yeah, yeah, I remember you saying that.” Facebook, Instagram, Instant Chat, Snapchat, Snap UR Mouth, whatever. One of the big concerns I had was the impact of this stuff on the youths of America, because everybody lies.

Everybody wants to have a red carpet life. My belief of social media is that all of the faceless young people that you know are there but you don’t know them personally. You know they’re there. They watch all of these shows where stars and celebrities are showing up for openings and screenings and it’s the red carpet, and there’s a fawning media. There are flashbulbs, and everybody’s loved and adored — and everybody wants that kind of fame.

That’s what they strive for. And they’ll never get it but they pretend they have it on social media. They count the number of likes, they count the number of followers, and they end up thinking they have audiences and that people are following them daily, religiously, hanging on every word. When in fact, nothing like that is happening for real at all, for most people.

I’ve often been concerned that it’s gonna cause all kinds of disappointment, sadness, maybe even some psychological problems. Because what happens on these social media sites, the Instagram, everybody posts the pictures of where they were last night or last week or last month on vacation, and they portray themselves as having just one of the greatest lives in the world.

“Why, I was so happy and everybody loves me, look at all my friends.” People look at that, “Oh, man, I don’t know anybody. I don’t have any life like that. I’m so… oh, my God.” They start thinking about what they’re missing and it leads to feelings of inadequacy or worse. It’s always been one of my major concerns.

Then you add to all of that now the rampant, mean-spirited, judgmental political excrement that’s all over social media, and it just expands the impact of all of this stuff that makes people not like themselves or thinking themselves inferior or deficient, when they’re not.

Every lies about the great time they had. Every guy lies about the number of women that he knows. It’s standard, ordinary human nature procedure. But there are always gonna be people that believe it. “Man, that’s not happening to me. What’s wrong with me?” And it just builds on itself.

Well, finally we have a story here from the website called Science Daily, and it is data from a study at the University of Pennsylvania. And the headline: “Social Media Use Increases Depression and Loneliness, Study Finds.” I knew it. It is not promoting togetherness. You know, you’ve heard people lament the fact that we are retreating from human contact, and everybody knows everybody only by virtue of bits and bytes, messaging apps, occasional videos and still shots, but nobody knows anybody, nobody has human conversation anymore.

Well, here’s the summary of the study. “Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram may not be great for personal well-being. The first experimental study examining use of multiple platforms shows a causal link between time spent on these social media and increased depression and loneliness.”

This was so easy to predict. I mean, because it’s not hard. This happens to everybody at one point in time in their lives or not, high school, junior high, clicks, the in-crowd, the out-crowd, the kooks, the geeks, the nerds, the cool cats. Social media just amplifies it, just expands the universe of all of these.

“The link between the two has been talked about for years, but a causal connection had never been proven. For the first time, University of Pennsylvania research based on experimental data connects Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram use to decreased well-being. Psychologist Melissa G. Hunt published her findings in the December Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.”

Here’s a pull quote. “It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely.” Point is, stop using social media and you’ll be happier. Stop using social media and you’ll be more connected with things and people. Social media allows you to isolate, withdraw, create fantasies about your own existence while you sit there in the basement fantasizing about how many people follow you, how many people like you, how many people love you, how many fans you’ve got, how many followers you’ve got.

These YouTube channels are classic, these YouTube video channels. Oh, man. How many times have you seen some big star on YouTube get picked up by a television network and they bomb? It’s not their fault. It just isn’t a big deal to become a YouTube star. “But he’s got a million followers.”

If that’s right, how come that doesn’t transfer to a million viewers when said YouTube star gets picked up by ABC or ESPN. Why doesn’t it happen? Because it’s not true in the first place. “But it says right there a million likes and 10,000 followers.” Well, they say that, but why are people devoted to that not being greatly satisfied by it.

“‘It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely,’ she says. But when she digs a little deeper, the findings make sense. “Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens.”

And this was my big point. When you look at other people’s lives, particularly on Instagram when you got the pictures there, it is easy to conclude that everybody else’s life is cooler or better than yours. Bingo! ‘Cause it isn’t. Oh, in some cases it is, I mean, but for the most part, people lie. People fantasize. People create the person they really wish they were. And you can do that anonymously in your basement so easily. You can make yourself out to be the biggest whatever you want to be.

If you want to be a cool cat, a playboy, a big time partier, a great musician, you can do it in your basement on social media. You never have to demo it, you never have to prove it. All you have to do is get some pictures and mislead people, bang, you’re off and running.

Anyway, these are the people that are being radicalized on social media by the clever techniques used by Google and Facebook and Twitter and all these people to capitalize on these feelings of inadequacy and convert those feelings to anger at Republicans or conservatives or whoever can be blamed for their unhappiness or their misery.