Thursday, 16 April 2015

Is social media bad for our mental health?


Ah, social media. The phenomenon that surrounds us with friends and 'likes', yet that can make us completely lonely and isolated in reality.

I was chatting to my friend Hannah about how detrimental the likes of Instagram can be for peoples' mental health. Some people become so wrapped up in it that they genuinely feel bad if they get less likes on photos than normal, or if someone unfollows their account. Sometimes social media accounts like these can take over from real life and individuals strive for acceptance from so many strangers that they don't even know. They may start to think that they are less attractive or entertaining if they get less attention via social media accounts, which can consequently affect their mental health.

People spend so much time on social media, trying to prove that they have an amazing life to others but not actually living in the moment. The amount of times I have seen girls posing for selfies in the toilets for 20 minutes, just to get the 'perfect' shot, or people on their phones trying to dream up the most hilarious tweet, is ridiculous.

It is also very easy to make things up on social media and 'big up' parts of life that are in reality not that exciting. Nobody puts a bad photo on Instagram - they are the best that they can possibly be in that moment. People can adopt a false persona on social media and it can be so easy to believe that they have a better life than you do. This can cause people to compare themselves to others, which is often unachievable and not even worth thinking about, making them feel inadequate. So many people strive for the 'perfect' body due to their Instagram idols and it's just not possible; it can really have a negative impact on self-esteem and self-worth.

On the other hand, social media can also be really good for mental health. I have spoken to so many people over on Twitter about mental health and depression and it's really lovely to feel like I'm not on my own with it. It has also enabled me to find lots of people that are prepared to openly talk about it and try to help change the stigma around mental health which is really positive. Campaigns like Time to Talk by Time to Change are slowly aiding a change in the way people view mental health and have had such encouraging results, as well as well-known bloggers like Zoella talking about mental illnesses. I think social media websites are perhaps having the biggest impact on changing the stigma around mental health and that is a really good thing.

In my opinion I think that social networking can be really good if you use it well - it can help to raise the profile of important campaigns and articles, as well as connect you with really lovely people and keeping you in touch with old friends. However it can be very easy to become wrapped up in it and compare yourself to other people, as well as criticising yourself if one day your social following reduces, and this can really be detrimental to peoples' mental health.

At the end of the day the number of likes you get on an Instagram photo or retweets on Twitter isn't a reflection of who you are or how good a person you are. I think that we all need to focus more on living in the moment and enjoying real life, rather than depending on social media for our happiness. Live for yourself and do what you want to do - stop relying on the approval of others.
Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don't strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.




PS Please donate towards my sponsored skydive for Mind here, or text MIHV99 £1 to 70070 - thank you for your support!

6 comments:

  1. So true. There are pros and cons to everything!

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  2. Very true. When I was younger, I definitely remember spending a lot of time trying to get a facebook profile picture that I liked, and more importantly (then) that everyone else would actually click like on. I would see other girls easily getting double or even triple figures and it did affect my confidence a bit although probably not my mental health as such at that point. When I was feeling particularly low and not up to going out all the time at uni, I did worry that I would look boring on my social media, and seeing everyone else's records of apparently great nights out did make me feel rubbish about myself. Nowadays though I think I've got a much better outlook on it all. And when my brother the other day decided to check my facebook to see if I'd be up to anything recently I laughed rather than cared when he found that all I've got from the past six months or so is posts from our mum!
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Thanks Jenny. It's really silly that people find the need to compare themselves - and sometimes social media can take over individuals' life. But I'm so glad you're much happier about it now - and it's so lovely that your mum posts on your Facebook! :) xx

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  3. Yes yes yes yes yes to this post! Over the last years, I stopped posting much on Facebook because all I would do it compare myself. Now I've grown up a bit, I've realised that I am not someone else, I am and what I do is more than enough. I think it is really bad for defining your worth too but I do think, like you say, I've met some great people such as yourself through the internet, and I wouldn't change that either :) xxx

    Sam | Samantha Betteridge

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    1. Thanks Sam! I hardly ever post on Facebook either (except with a few of my blog posts) and I've found I am much happier because of it. You are definitely enough - everyone is enough and we should start to realise that! Awww yeah, we definitely need to meet up soon :) xxx

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