Is Social Media Good for Your Health?
When you think of social media, you probably don’t see it as a tool for improving your health. A great place to share pictures of your cat, kids, or dinner? Sure. A way to stay in touch with your old college friends or long-lost relatives? Okay. But can it actually be healthy?
Surprisingly, yes. Many Facebook users say that the platform has a lot more to offer than spaghetti pictures and brag posts. For any problem or life situation that you can imagine, there is a private Facebook group where members can share their stories and support one another. Facebook users find solace in groups for weight loss, bereavement, single parenthood, battling cancer, fighting addiction, living with psychological disorders, raising special needs children, escaping abusive relationships, and so on. A simple search on the social media site can yield results in virtually any category.
Mental health professionals say that support groups can be the key to healing from a trauma or overcoming challenges. Simply knowing that you’re not the only one experiencing a particular problem can work wonders to give you hope. But what if your schedule doesn’t allow for regular meetings, or you feel uncomfortable in large groups? You can reap the same benefits by connecting with others on social media. Often these interactions begin in private groups, but deep friendships often grow from these conversations. Some relationship even move offline, to the “real world”.
Connecting with others online gives you a valuable opportunity to gather information about your particular situation or challenge. Those who have gone before you can teach coping skills, share their positive and negative experiences, point you in the right direction for help or treatments, and motivate you to keep going. Likewise, if you have expertise in a particular area, you can gain personal satisfaction from helping others overcome an obstacle you once faced.
Facebook has become a gold mine for information on just about any topic. After all, you could read articles all day long, but putting ideas into action still requires a leap of faith and a risk of failure. When real, trusted friends offer information or advice, you can move forward with the confidence of knowing what has worked for someone else. It has long been said that “word of mouth” is the most effective form of advertising, and can be the best way to find the solutions you need.
Decades ago, you might have asked a neighbor for help while chatting across the backyard fence. That was how people found doctors who helped them, learned effective parenting techniques, or located products that worked. Nowadays, we do the same thing on social media. It provides the healthy social interaction that is missing from so many lives, and sometimes even helps us to discover life-changing new ideas.