It’s a well-known fact that social media is having a negative impact on our mental health. With our technology usage ramping up, mindfulness about the effects social media can have on our state of mind is becoming more imperative.
From Facebook to Youtube to Instagram, social media has become an important feature in the lives of many, especially young people. It’s sudden emergence and presence in our lives is likely a contributor to our blinkered stance on its negative effects, as well as its addictive and immersive nature. An “influencer” culture has emerged, with brands and celebrities alike realising the possibilities of social media marketing. Recent influencer ‘Rich Lists’ have added substance to this showing the crazy amount someone can earn online (see here and here).
Aside from the excitement of not having a “real” job and brands being able to connect with the public on a new, intimate level, influencer culture does have its complications. A certain pressure materialises from viewing the seemingly seamless lives of these online celebrities. People compare their lives and subsequently feel inadequate, especially regarding body image. Selena Gomez was a famous example of someone who came off the platform Instagram because she said she was constantly comparing herself to other women and she recognised this was bad for her mental health. Even though what is posted online is only a snapshot of a celebrity’s day to day life, it doesn’t appear this way in the immersive online world, and this can lead to us feeling bad about ourselves.
So, how do we cope with this newfound online pressure? Limiting screen time or being mindful of the amount of time we are spending on these social media platforms is one way to combat the issue. Most apps now have a screen time measure you can check, and you can even get a notification from apps like Instagram, alerting you to how long you’ve spent on the app. Spending time away from the timelines is a sure fire way to reduce the online pressure, allowing you to reconnect with reality.
Being mindful of the way you use social media is another way to reduce pressure. Like any great tool, social media can be used in a negative or positive way. Finding the positive accounts that will enhance your day to day life instead of draining some life out of it is imperative to your mental health. From photography to travel to poetry to sport, there are so many inspiring people posting positive things on the internet, you just have to find them, and ditch the account that conjure up comparison.
The last tip is to keep your online life as “real” as you can, and don’t feel the need to contribute every second of every day. There seems to be a fear of people forgetting you if you don’t post regularly, or not getting enough “likes” if the post isn’t good enough. Let go of this unhealthy mentality as much as you can and understand that those who truly care about you don’t need to see you post all the time to remember who you are. Posting only the best parts of your life will lead to pressure because you’ll then feel the need to upkeep this shiny online presence. Being mindful of this cycle and at least attempting authenticity will help to reduce this pressure, and hopefully help your mental health.