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'A wake-up call' | Facebook's outages show social media's impact on our lives

Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. Suvrat Bhargave said the outages show just how much we depend on social media.

ATLANTA — No Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram for hours on Monday sent some into a panic.

According to Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. Suvrat Bhargave, that kind of reaction to network outages shows just how much we rely and depend on social media in our daily lives. 

"It very much can be like any other kind of addiction," Dr. Bhargave said. "If your body at some point doesn't get what it's gotten used to, then you can certainly have a withdrawal-like effect."

He added that the outages forced many to realize just how much they use these social media platforms.

"I think for a lot of people, this might have been a good wake-up call to really re-examine your relationship with social media," he said. "What happened today was a cold turkey approach to challenging where social media fits into your life."

Dr. Bhargave explained there are positives and negatives to our use of social media.

"We as human beings are social creatures," he said. "We need connection."

But he added that the outages highlighted the negative psychological impacts such as anxiety, depression, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, low self-esteem, and self-absorbency. 

"We know that the more time that you prioritize for social media that it can really feed or develop depression, anxiety, a lot of different mood disorders," Dr. Bhargave said.

To help build a healthier relationship with social media, Dr. Bhargave suggests monitoring how much you use it every day and set rules for yourself including times when you disconnect.

He also recommends turning off notifications to some apps.

"That way, it's a little bit more in your control," he said, "All of these platforms want you to continually feed them by tuning in. So if you just decide that you only have a time in the morning and a time in the evening, it puts the control back in your space."