The great change of our time comes from the Internet . New technologies have made it possible for us all to be connected and informed through smartphones and computers.

Although at first glance this greater access to information and communications only represents a clear advantage for our species, the truth is that there are also people who lose control and have a problematic relationship with these technologies, to the point of developing clinical pictures derived from their misuse.

How do social networks affect us?

As we saw in an article a few months ago, social networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) are a great way to keep in touch with people who are far away, but at the same time it has led to disorders such as FOMO Syndrome. We seem to be so connected to the networks that we have lost the ability to focus on ourselves, our well-being and the present moment.

But this is not the only problem arising from social networks. People who are addicted to the reward of having more followers or more ‘likes’ in their photographs also come to the consultation. Even spiritual retreats are in fashion, in which dozens of people take advantage of the weekend to free themselves from the toxic load that dependence on new technologies generates in them.

Interview with Marta Marín Martínez, from Clínica Mariva

To deepen in all the problems that are generating new technologies in general, and social networks in particular, we wanted to talk with Marta Marín Martínez , from Clínica Mariva in Valencia.

Bertrand Regader: Has the regular use of social networks on the Internet affected our self-image and the way we value ourselves?

Mariva: I think there’s no doubt about it. We started out using social networks where, although image was important, it wasn’t the main thing or it didn’t have to be. We shared texts and so on, but this has reached the point where the dominant social network relies on image as its strength, so we’ve reached a point where it’s affecting too much.

How have interpersonal relationships changed since we used platforms like Facebook or Instagram?

These social networks have as one of their positive points that allow to maintain relationships, to know the last news of friends etc, so they help to maintain the feeling of belonging, something basic for the human being.

However, it is also important to reflect on the fact that sometimes we have contacts in social networks that we haven’t had for years, so is it necessary to know aspects about their lives or vice versa?

Specifically in the area of relationships… what kind of problems arise from the use of these online platforms?

Problems arise, especially in terms of jealousy. There is an obvious upsurge of consultations in our center for problems of this type “has given like a picture of another girl … is still on social networks to his former partner … I do not answer whatsapps at the time … talks to another guy …” are phrases we hear daily and, contrary to what we may think, are not just a matter of young people. I think that the problem is not the social network, there is a problem of jealousy and mistrust and the social network or the use of instant messaging is serving as a catalyst.

Another common problem is that the couple is together but one or both of them are more aware of the mobile phone, looking at other things or even uploading photos of what they are doing. In these cases, I would say the same as in the previous case, there is already a basic problem that is not the social network itself.

On the other hand, the use of these digital resources comes with the cost of some loss of privacy. Do we tend to underestimate this disadvantage?

Of course, that’s what we were saying, that we have contacts that we haven’t seen in years and that are up to date with our lives. We are taking away the value of intimacy, something that is a first-rate value and that, I think, we should take much more care of.

We also talk about the way social networks keep us glued to the screen. How do you explain this ability to keep an eye on what the rest of our contacts are uploading and sharing?

People are curious about what people are doing around them, it’s natural, but, it can become “gossip” and , that’s why, social networks, as well as TV reality shows are so successful. We usually like to look out the window and see what the neighbor is doing, and the social network allows this instantly, although, continuing with the metaphor, it is a window with many filters in which we do not see the total reality of the neighbor, but usually its most positive part, which can undermine our self-esteem by the happy social comparison.

Perhaps people with anxiety problems do not handle the flood of information that platforms such as Facebook or Twitter throw at us. Does this take shape in cases seen in therapy?

The worst thing that people with anxiety carry, or even without it, is the feeling of having to be available and reachable at any time, something that prevents them from disconnecting.

On the other hand, as you say, over-stimulation is very harmful to anxiety and it is essential that we relearn how to watch a movie, listen to music, go out with friends… enjoying that task alone and not looking at our cell phones.

Are we being educated to compete in the number of likes, retweets and comments in the photos?

Yes, although little by little, we are realizing how useless it is and many people are choosing to eliminate social networks from their lives, but, this is especially worrying in the world of young people and adolescents, because, at a fundamental age for the development of an adequate self-esteem, we are encouraging it to be based on the perception of others and their reaction to our image or the image we want to give, this is harmful for the development of a healthy self-esteem.

What about people who choose not to use social networks, are they harmed by a lack of ability to meet new people?

As we have discussed, I perceive that it is an upward trend, although it is still strange to meet people who have decided to dispense with social networks and those who do, tend to feel more excluded and, when it comes to meeting new people, it begins to be indispensable, even, to establish relationships.