Usually, checking to see what’s new on your Twitter feed can be a fun way to start your day as you get caught up on news and what your friends are doing, but sometimes, it can actually be a pretty stressful experience — and if you feel that way, you’re definitely not alone. Even though tweets are limited to 280 characters, it can still make you feel like you’re on information overload, especially if you follow a lot of people. And being that the world kind of sucks right now, being reminded of that isn’t exactly going to put you in a good mood. It’s no surprise that Twitter could play a part in ruining your mental health, because social media isn’t just for fun anymore.
According to The Telegraph, a 2012 study from the University of Salford in the UK revealed that two-thirds of people who use Twitter find it hard to relax after they’ve been on the app, and discovered that it can even cause your confidence to suffer because of the extra opportunity it gives people to judge themselves based on what their friends are doing and saying. It makes sense; if you’re constantly looking at others’ highlight reels, your every day life is going to look a lot worse.
It’s not just Twitter that’s at fault, either. Last year, Psychiatry Online reported that using multiple forms of social media can lead to or worsen depression and anxiety, and people who use at least seven forms of social media (which would include Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook) had three times the risk of mental illness than people who used social media less. Feel like your mood changes every time you check for notifications and updates? You’re not making it up — it probably is causing an issue for you, and that’s something you should definitely address.
The fact is, sites like Twitter (where new information is constantly coming in) can quickly make you feel like you’re in information overload, which is a real thing. If you’ve felt like you’re overwhelmed by the site and being exposed to what other people are tweeting — and what negative news is coming through your feed, like what our president is currently tweeting as an example — you’re not the only one. It can be exhausting to be handed that many things to think and care about, especially if you feel like you should be formulating an opinion to share with your followers at the same time, or if you’re worried about gaining likes and followers yourself.
Don’t get us wrong — Twitter is awesome. It can be an amazing tool when used properly. Not only is it an outlet where you can express your thoughts more freely than you can on other social media sites like Facebook, but it’s also a source of hilarious memes and discovering news and articles that can help you become more informed on what’s going on in the world. So many positive things have come out of social media, and it’s easier to keep in touch with loved ones than ever before, but at the same time, it can really make us feel badly about ourselves. But you don’t have to delete your account to keep Twitter from harming you. Like with any other activity, moderation is absolutely key to make sure that Twitter doesn’t destroy your mental health.
There are plenty of ways to make sure Twitter is a positive addition to your life instead of a negative one. Unfollow or mute the accounts and words that tend to make you feel bad and follow plenty of accounts that are positive or that make you feel good about yourself — or, you know, post daily pictures of puppies. Remember not to engage with trolls who might want to shut you down for something you’ve tweeted (usually for no good reason), and if you find yourself feeling anxious, put the phone down and go do something else.
Don’t forget: your phone has a power button. Whenever you need to, feel free to turn it off and take a break. Go outside, watch a movie, read a book — do anything but continue your endless scroll. Who knows? You might end up feeling like a brand new person.