Proceedings of The 4th International Conference on Social Sciences in the 21st Century
Self-Representation on Social Media during the First Five COVID-19 Pandemic Waves
Alexandra Valéria Sándor
The present pilot study provides details on changes in self-representation on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as on their potential link to mental health. The aim was to contribute to our knowledge both of mental health contexts underlying engagement on social media and of the pandemic’s psychosocial consequences—a topic calling for an interdisciplinary approach including sociology, psychology, and communication and media studies. Via a four-step online survey, the study assessed participants’ current mental health status, alongside their self-perceived social media usage and self-representation habits. The survey asked the same 20 questions four times during each of the first five COVID-19 pandemic waves in Hungary, between April 22, 2020, and January 20, 2022. The research indicated that (1) time spent on social media and (2) willingness to share self-representative content increased during the pandemic up to the fourth wave. The findings associated these changes with (3) a growing risk of the subjects’ developing a major depressive disorder during all five waves and (4) an even higher risk of depression among the most active social media sharers, as the embedded PHQ-2 questionnaire demonstrated. This leads to the conclusion that the multidimensional societal consequences under the COVID-19 pandemic are worth further examining.
keywords: COVID-19, self-representation, social media, sociology, social psychology.