Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Is Social Media Affecting My Mental Health?

Social media is an issue that has sky rocketed over the past 5-10 years or so and is now such an integral part of most people's lives that it's quite sad really. I miss the old days back at secondary school when in order to arrange to hang out with someone or to just have a casual chat, you had to text or ring them - not hit them up on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Granted back when I was 14 there were things like Bebo and MSN that kept us connected online, but they seemed so much more harmless than the social media around nowadays. Remember giving people your hearts on Bebo every day? Playing innocent games like tic-tac-toe whilst chatting with friends on MSN?  I miss that simplicity! With these new age apps at an all time high, it's scary to think what the world will become in another 10 years; will people even bother to talk to each other face to face? Or will literally everything be done via one of these social platforms? I'm hardly one to judge people who indulge in social media as I'll admit, I'm shamelessly addicted to things like Instagram and Twitter, however I am becoming increasingly more aware as the years go by just how dangerous social media can truly be and the affects it can have on your mental well being. 

Facebook has always been at the top of my list of websites that I hate. It just annoys me in so many ways. Not only is it ridiculously invasive and baits people into telling the whole world every little detail about themselves, but it also gives people you don't necessarily get along with or even know a way to judge you and comment on your life, without your permission. Before you say, yes I know it has privacy settings so you can control who sees your profile and what information actually gets displayed on google, but how easy is it to hack someone's account these days? Your information is not as safe as you may think. On any website really, not just Facebook. Whatever you put out on the internet is no longer solely yours. Whether that's information about your personal life, pictures of you and your loved ones or your private messages, it's all out there for the world to see it, should it so wish. So why are people so quick to share every single thing about themselves with total strangers? Is it the need to feel accepted? The need to be well known and loved? The need for attention? God knows! All I know is Facebook is evil. It has been the cause of so much heartbreak and drama for me, purely because I was stupid enough to allow insignificant people to have a small glimpse into my life and they then proceeded to try to bring me down. So I got rid of it. Almost 2 years down the line and I'm happier than ever. The only people that truly know about my life are the people I want too and I don't have nosey people from my past or total strangers snooping on my every move. I highly recommend it, it's liberating AF. Also, if the new Facebook Live feature that has so far broadcasted multiple people being shot/stabbed/murdered live online doesn't scare you enough, then I am baffled. It's a weird world that we live in.

Twitter isn't really much better to be honest. Although personally, I mainly use it to stalk celebrities and authors so I can stay updated with everyone I admire in one place on the internet. I do occasionally tweet about my own life, but I try to keep it simple and not too in depth when possible. At the end of the day, if people want to get to know me, then talk to me, I'm a friendly, open book! I just don't want to have to write it all over the internet for everyone to know my business. I get this sounds weird coming from someone who blogs about their life for the whole world to see, but the difference is I get to choose what I blog about and can edit/take down any content at any time and nobody cares about a small blogger who likes to rant about things she likes and her baby, it's not juicy enough to make a difference. Yes you can delete tweets and facebook statuses, but by the time you've done so, they have probably been seen by far too many people for you to get away with it so you have to be so careful what you disclose. Another thing I've recently had brought to light are these strange judgemental groups such as Mom Twitter, along with many many more I can only assume. I completely appreciate that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and can voice it however way they choose online, but to actively approach and attack innocent people for their views if they differ from yours is pathetic, cruel and frankly quite dangerous. These kind of groups dedicated for mums or any people really, should be loving and supportive and offer advice to people that need it - not viciously degrade strangers that aren't doing something the way you think it should be done. What has happened to people these days? 

Instagram is pretty much the only social media app that I use that I don't have many issues with, ironically. The new algorithm sucks, making posts rarely seen by your followers unless you post them at the right times of the day, but that's more the materialistic side of things than it mentally affecting me. I'm still crazily aware of the fact the pictures I post on my profile are now out in the world for anyone to see and potentially use without me knowing, which is a scary thought in itself, but I am clever enough to strictly control what I publish and what parts of my life I allow people to see. Ever heard of the saying 'Don't judge a person by their Instagram feed?' That could not be more accurate. Just because someone's feed looks 'perfect' doesn't necessarily mean their life is. It's that wonderful trickery of the app that keeps me on it to be honest. I can be going through the worst times in my life yet be posting about how much fun I had at a BBQ last week or a happy inspirational quote and no-one would be the wiser. I'm not saying I don't sometimes post deeper quotes or pictures when I'm feeling down or that I'm constantly faking to be happy as that's not true. Life is hard and sometimes you need to share that fact with the world so you can get the support you need from friends and family, even on social media. But it's definitely easier to feel in control on an app such as Instagram I feel. Plus the memes on there, the ability to keep up to date with your favourite celebs, authors and people with similar likes as you is awesome and it's a great way to make new friends if you put the effort in. 

All in all, I can openly admit that over the many years that I've had social media, it has made me more conscious of what people think of me and how I'm expected to act in order for people to like me, even if they don't personally know me. It's made me crave certain people's attention - their likes and favourites and retweets. It's made me jealously observe other people's lives and wish mine was more like theirs. It's aided in my shameless stalking of people from my past that I absolutely should not be even wasting time thinking about, let alone checking their profiles. And many other things that have mentally scarred me in ways only the internet can do. These are things I'm working on every day though as I don't believe anything, especially something as insignificant as social media, should make you second guess yourself or tell you that you aren't good enough because that's bullshit. You are enough. And your mental health means SO much more than the likes, the favourites, the retweets, the followers. 


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