To mark mental awareness week in the UK, we have decided to discuss the effects of social media on mental health.

We know we’re all guilty of this. Social media has become a living breathing monster. A demi god to whom we must pay reverence to every single day. Nowadays, people would rather be on their phones at social gatherings than starting off a conversation with someone sitting next to them. We care more about having the picture, we obsess about how clear it is. How it shows we’re happy and having fun and moving with the right crowd.

This is not a critical piece neither is it a haughty decree to point out flaws to the sinful masses. It is an acknowledgment, the acceptance of who we are and who we’ve have become.

The world around us had become more connected through our mobile phones whilst we’ve become more and more disconnected in our everyday human relationships.  When something ‘nice’ happens, we’re quick to bring out our phones and document it. It’s not because we want to save a memory, but rather because we want to show our online friends what we are up to . There is this innate need and pressure to show off and impress the masses.

We all need likes on our posts, to increase our subscribers counts on our YouTube channels. This has become a desperate need and a major void to fill. We mask sadness by how many likes and comments are on our posts and surrender our happiness to followers. Our decisions have been marred too. We buy stuff because it will look good on the gram. We go to certain places just to take photos for the gram, and we share false victories and plaster fake smiles on our faces to make us feel better!

This brings us to the big question; why am I doing this? Why am I under this much pressure to impress? Why do we feel the need to be validated by “online strangers?”

“Winning” on social media is good, but even better is winning in real life.  Having real reliable friends, having a good career, a good support system, etc is more important . Everything shouldn’t be for clout, as Twitter intellectuals like to call it. Seriously though , if you were to cut off right now from all your social media accounts for two weeks, your phone taken from you, would you survive?.  My guess is that you would find a way to document the two weeks as soon your phone is handed back to you.

The tendency to overshare has cost so many of us our peace of mind. We just have to get those likes and subscribers. A harsh truth we all need to face is that social media doesn’t care.

There are several ways social media is affecting our mental health without us realizing. It takes a jab at our self esteem (constantly comparing our lives to others), it’s affecting our sleep, getting worked up with anxiety or envy from what we see on social media keeps the brain on high alert, thereby preventing us from falling asleep faster or easier.

In March 2018, it was reported that more than a third of Generation Z from a survey of 1,000 individuals stated that they were quitting social media for good as 41 per cent stated that social media platforms make them feel anxious, sad or depressed.

We all know how true this is, feeling sad and anxious because our lives don’t seem to be working when compared to our online friends..

No matter what you post, how you post it, and the sweat it takes you to do so, you’re only entertaining a virtual audience. And the minute they stop feeling entertained? They move on to the next big gist. Having this in mind, we can learn to see and use social media as a valuable tool (to be used and discarded as needed), and not as an uncontrollable monster that wants to take over every aspect of our lives.

 

 

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