social media

Are the Virtual Interactions of Social Media Busting or Boosting Your Stress?

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Connecting with others is generally a good thing when it comes to our health and well-being. But can the same be said for our virtual interactions? The answer is a qualified “maybe,” according to psychologists and other experts who have studied the issue.

There’s evidence that the ability to connect with others via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and other social media platforms, as well as text messages, can help strengthen social ties and keep us more attuned to our mental and physical health. But there’s also evidence that such interactions stifle human connectivity, lower our self-esteem, make us feel lonely and isolated, and just plain stress us out, says Emily Weinstein, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who studies the effects of social media on young adults. “It’s both.”

Read the rest of my story at Everyday Health.

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Lessons from Eighth Grade

Pseudo-self is “pretend” self. People pretend to be more or less important than they really are, stronger or weaker than they really are, more or less attractive than they really are. A group can “pump up” an individual’s level of functioning to the point that he can do things he had been unable to do on his own. This higher level of functioning, however, is totally dependent on the group’s continuing support. – Family Evaluation, Dr. Murray Bowen and Dr. Michael Kerr

This week I went to see the movie Eighth Grade. The film follows Kayla, a modern 8th grader who publishes a series of positive, self-help videos on YouTube that display a pretend, opposite version of Kayla’s actual quiet, uncertain, and anxious self. Many reviewers have remarked that the film is an insightful commentary on how social media, the perfect selfie, and the lure of Internet fame have shaped today’s youth.

But as I watched the film, I couldn’t help but think the exact opposite. . .

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How Does That Make You Tweet?

For Slate‘s Future Tense Blog

Paparazzi aren’t the only ones documenting former child star Amanda Bynes’ mental health problems. Gawkers have also kept tabs on her via her Twitter account.

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picture from Slate

Bynes’ most recent hospitalization occurred when she tweeted accusations that her father sexually abused her, then blamed the false statement on the “microchip” in her brain. Then a few weeks ago, after she was caught sleeping on a couch in a California shopping mall, the star again took to Twitter to share that she had been diagnosed “bipolar and manic depressive,” which a psychiatrist will tell you are the same thing.

While it’s reassuring to see Bynes report that she’s seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist, it’s unnerving to see 3.6 million Twitter followers take a front-row seat to someone’s descent into mental illness. But I’m not condemning them, because I’ve been following her, too. Engrossed by Bynes’ psychiatric odyssey, I was surprised by how quickly I joined the diagnostic guessing game for a person I had never even met. And I’m a therapist! Read the rest here.