Psychologist says current social media influx can have negative impacts on mental health

Psychologist says current social media influx can have negative impacts on mental health
Posted at 7:07 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 22:08:46-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Social media has become both a difficult and uplifting place for many in light of the killing of George Floyd.

23ABC News spoke to a local psychologist about how social media during this time could take a toll on someone's mental health and how community members are feeling about the current social climate.

For many people social media has been a strenuous place to navigate lately

“More chaotic for me than it was before that i mean i don’t know if there has been something like this before because i mean there was rodney king in the 90’s but Instagram didn’t exist,” 17-year old biracial Bakersfield resident, Reili Parkinson said.

Parkinson said the controversy on social media surrounding the killing of George Floyd has consumed her social media feeds for the last few weeks non stop.

“Since police brutality is the main topic in question a lot of the stuff you are seeing is pretty graphic and pretty violent.”

Parkinson said that these violent images are constant and going viral on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds. However, she said she feels that the black lives matter movement is now becoming more of a hot topic used for daily entertainment rather than a movement for change.

“It's entertainment at the end of the day for a lot of people, it’s entertainment and so it’s really uncomfortable and kind of dark.”

23ABC News spoke to the Director of Kern Behavioral Health, Dr. Bill Walker about this type of social media climate. He told 23ABC News that social media can validate your views and still feed into fear and heighten hysteria.

"They know what you like and even if what you are liking is something that scares you, social media will follow you and keep feeding it to you and there’s no balance,” Walker said.

For other people like caucausian Bakersfield resident Sean Moran, the current issues of police brutality or systemic racism in policing on social media he said has led him to unfollowed many of his friends, Moran calling it an eye opening experience.

“One of the most primary things that I saw that offended me was that, somebody said that there is no such thing as systemic racism. So I had to research that, I had to figure it out for myself where it occurs, what it is and it’s a real thing and this situation that’s happening has made me look into that and realize that.” Moran said.

Dr. Walker said during national crises social media can be anxiety inducing and invoke negative emotions in people, “When we have floods, earthquakes, fires, anytime there’s huge events and people just start saturating themselves with that, the sense of control starts dictating and they start feeling anxious and they start feeling like if it can happen there it can happen here.”

“I felt more anxious about saying something just because I don’t…I really.. I still feel the guilt of being disingenuous and I almost have to remind myself that, oh wait I am the one who should be talking about this,” Parkinson said.

“What does cause me to feel a little guilt from time to time is when some white person says something and it’s inflammatory, but I kind of agree with it. There has been some things that I kind of agree with and so then I feel bad if I should or shouldn’t agree with that or not,” Moran said.

Dr. Walker claimed the emotionally charged media can also be cognitively addictive, "if you are going through ups and downs and it’s bringing you up and then you’re dropping. So that’s a sign that I’m kinda getting addicted to this and I don’t mean like that physically addicted but like I’m getting emotionally addicted to this."

Dr. Walker adding that social media is best in small does and unplugging is essential, “I use the candy analysis it’s like a piece of candy or dessert is great but if it’s what you start eating all the time you both crave it and it makes you sick.”

Dr. Walker said that during times like this it’s important to get and out and about and stay active and really find ways to disconnect and enjoy the moment. He also said if you are feeling way too overwhelmed you should contact the local help hotline at Kern Behavioral Health.