Can arguing online affect your mental health?
A quick glance at a certain social media post or video on YouTube confirms one thing: people love arguing online. May it be a political post or a video of a crying baby, people can’t seem to fight the urge to get involved in some form of online debate.
Indeed, the Internet was possibly invented for arguments. But how exactly do these online arguments affect our mental health?
Health and social psychologist Dr Dawn Branley tried to investigate the risks and benefits of using the Internet including the effect of online arguments.
Results of her study showed that 60% of respondents who engage in online arguments experience increased pulse and a rush of adrenaline. Meanwhile, about 50% claim they are “somewhat” emotionally involved in online arguments. Interestingly, only 4.6% of the respondents say they are “not at all” emotionally involved in the arguments.
In terms of feelings, 27.5% of respondents reported feeling frustrated, while 18% felt misunderstood. About 13% experienced anger, 5.7% sensed excitement and 1.6% had feelings of pride.
“Although it is possible that some users may find arguing online to be a form of catharsis – i.e., a release of negative emotion – some studies suggest that ranting or venting our anger online actually appears to intensify the negative feelings rather than reduce them,” Branley explained.
Branley believes that arguing online, particularly with a troll will offer no benefit to people in a vulnerable state of mind. Careful evaluation of a debate or argument must be made first before engaging in one.
“Although the internet provides a good platform for healthy debate, it is important to evaluate the situation and decide whether any good will actually come from engaging in online debate,” Branley concluded.