Is Social Media At Fault For The Rise of Mental Health Issues Today?
A few years back, one of my best friends told me that the rise of mental health issues was because of the equivalent rise of social media. Now, I will say, this was something she said quite some time ago. Instagram hadn’t even launched yet. There was no Snapchat yet. People were just starting to part ways with beloved My Space. And, Facebook was in all its glory. At that time, Facebook was not the “just for college students” platform it once was. It was newly opened to everyone and anyone to join. Hence, why people were completely obsessed with it at the time. Let me put it to you this way….if there was an analytics chart I could present to you, of what Facebook engagement was like during this time, it would far surpass the chart’s top.
With that all time high engagement, also came what I like to call, the “lifestyle comparison wars”. It’s no secret that Facebook (and now all other social media platforms), is a place where people post the best of their lives. Especially a few years back, that is all you ever saw on Facebook. In present day, there are people who do post “real life” pictures, but it’s not consistent. And, here is where my friend had a great point with her theory years ago —— why do we go on social media? Do we all just look, and remain emotionless, have zero reactions? No, we all have emotions/reactions while scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. But, we all handle those emotions/reactions differently. Some people really let it become a “lifestyle comparison war”, while others scroll, have a mild reaction, but keep on with their lives after. Not everyone is wired the same. Some people are weaker than others. And with consistent exposure to other people’s “best moments”, they can start a war within their own minds. They can start comparing so much, to the point of losing themselves completely.
At the time my friend made her comment, I didn’t really agree with her. In fact, I didn’t really understand where her comment came from. But, as time has passed, social media has grown even more. And unfortunately, so have the amounts of suicides around the world. As much as people don’t admit it, social media sucks us in without us even realizing it. Many think they’re casually scrolling to see what’s going on in the life of others, but then subconsciously start doing, thinking, and living in comparison to what they saw on Instagram, Facebook, etc. And for some, this can lead them into a mental health black hole.
Think about all the terms used in social media: “influencer”, “emoticons”, “reaction”, “Like/Dislike”, etc. They’re all connected to your mind, and your feelings. Social media is driven by our mindset, but it can also work against you subconsciously, and drive YOU instead.
It’s important to put yourself in check when it comes to social media. First off, don’t ever compare your life to someone else’s. There’s a reason we are called “individuals”. We were all born alone (unless you’re part of a multiple birth, but regardless, there will always only be ONE you). If you find yourself comparing your life, or looks to others on social media, take a break. And, I don’t mean a few hours worth. I mean, take the apps for the platforms off your phone, tablet, computer, etc. And, keep them off for at least 30 days. You will honestly feel so renewed mentally, and connected to yourself in a whole new way. You’ll even notice your moods to be on an all time high (the good kind). Taking a social media break cleanses your mind and spirit, and restructures your mental health. Think of it as a mental detox.
Obviously, none of this is factual. It’s simply based on observations my friend and I have made in the last decade. Mental health issues is something many don’t take seriously. But, it does exist, now more than ever. And, we’re also in a time where technology is diminishing human connection, and self connection. Technology is only going to advance more each day. It is in our hands, and our hands alone, to be aware enough of our habits, and make sure they don’t takeover our purpose as people.
Stay real, stay grounded, and most of all, stay present always. Xo
Cover image via Medical Press