Social Media and Mental Health
A rant about the effects social media can have on all of our mental health
Social media, the platform that in our society today we spend the majority of our lives on. We waste hours upon hours mindlessly scrolling through feeds, not even allowing our brains enough time to comprehend, understand and process what we are reading. I suppose it's contradictory for me to sit and write about this topic when I am just as much responsible for the growth of it over the years. The hours that have I have put into it, and gained what?
Its hard to admit that for most people this is our crutch—its what we depend on while we are bored at home, procrastinating, eating and even sitting on the toilet. We spend hours on it every day, processing hundreds of different things, that in no way effect or improve our lives (maybe sometimes they do, but I'm speaking in general terms). We scroll through countless numbers of tweets or images or statuses, and post hundreds of our own thoughts and pictures, for what? Are we just looking to stay up to date on current topics are we just so narcissistic that we believe all our hundreds of followers want to see what we are having for our breakfast?
There were so many positives to social media when it was first started. The ability to connect with family and friends over the internet was a great idea. The communication that you could create without being in the same country as a loved one was something that brought people closer together, while being on opposite sides of the world. However then it began to turn more toxic as the years went on and more people started to use it. When I was younger it was as if you had to have an Instagram account, you had to post a picture showing how good your night was, even if it was the worst night you have had out. I can remember being younger and posting a photo to Instagram and physically throwing my phone down so that I wouldn't look at it, only to be drawn back about five minutes later, and picking it up and counting how many likes I got. Like I needed some sort of appreciation from my peers to know that I made the right choice on things like my makeup and clothes and hair. So consumed by what other people thought of me that I was willing to sacrifice my own identity to be "better." Then you would compare it with other people who uploaded a photo at the same time and think 'why does theres have so many more likes than mine?'
This is when the second guessing begins. Am I not pretty enough? Am I not skinny enough? Am I not popular? Do people find me ugly? And this process happened every time, yet I still put myself through it, because it was the normal thing. When did this "likes" culture become such a huge part of everyones life? It is one of the reasons why as I got older I stopped posting on Instagram. It was giving me anxiety trying to think of the reason my post got way less likes than all my best friends, and why I had so many less followers. It is also about portraying a false persona of yourself, saying that you had the best night out at a nightclub and posting a photo in your lovely brand new dress, even though I saw you in the corner crying over a boy all night. Why is it that we only post the positives? Is it because no one wants to read the negatives? I of course have been guilty of it. Posting things for the sake of it, to show everyone that I fit in.
When did social media sites become such a competitive area and so damning for our mental health? More and more people are suffering from issues regarding their mental health because they are feeling the pressures that platforms like Instagram can cause. Feeling the pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way? For what? For all of us as a society to mould into the "perfect person." No one to be individual because if you are you're just weird and different.
So at what point does it end? Do we stop caring about what others think on these sites and just post freely what we want? I think social media can be a good place, (which probably sounds ironic to say after the whole rant above) but its also a very damaging place for so many people and has led to an increase in mental health issues. I find it hilariously ironic that the creators of communication platforms like twitter are opting to take silent retreats; communication platforms, silent retreat. Even they know the issues that they have caused, how their small platform that was started to help people has now exploded and even they have lost control of it all.
P.S. don't get me started on celebrities fake brand deals.