There’s simply so much I can rant about when it comes to the topic of social media. I myself grew up in the generation of social media. I believe I was in year 9 at school when I first joined Facebook and it was all fairly exciting at the time. Before that I had only ever had a “Bebo” account. I’m currently 24, an age where I’ve seen social media unfold like it has in front of my own eyes, however I am able to view it differently to lets say a 13 year old, who has grown up with social media always being around.
I’ve been a teenager myself; they spend a lot of time watching TV and when they’re not watching TV they’re scrolling through social media on their phones. Their minds are continually being filled with images of everything and anything. Celebrity brands and company advertisements are chucked in their faces, influencing them to want the next ‘in’ thing. Celebrities and their luscious lifestyles, ravishing mansions and impressive motors on display at the touch of a button. Boys and girls as young as 13 exposed to ‘perfect’ looking men and woman, thinking their nails, hair, brows, lips and bodies should be a certain way. The fashion industry, plastic surgery, violence and aggressive comments easily accessible to them. These are things that undeniably we’re all exposed to. But when I was 13 I wore my hair in a side pony and when I got to about 15 I would chuck on some sparkly roll on eyeshadow from time to time, which I most likely bought in Claire’s accessories, (or something of my mums). I can honestly say that I did not have a clue what contouring was. We didn’t even feel the need to fill our eyebrows in.
It’s easy to see how all of us, not only youngsters can get caught up in the fantasy world of social media. It’s easy to get dragged in. It can quickly become habit to get your phone out and capture every moment to instantly share with the world. Or to take twenty different pictures of yourself until you find the one that’s going to look the best with your favourite Instagram filter. I actually think this is okay to some extent as long as its not for the purpose of impressing outsiders on the internet.
From my point of view, social media can affect our mental health in ways we wouldn’t even think and I’ll explain why;
We only upload our happiest moments – our life highlights. I mean, lets be honest, we’re not going to upload a picture of our unhappy moments are we? The time’s we’re upset or when things are going wrong. But we go wrong when we compare our ‘behind the scene’ struggles with everyone else’s happy moments. It’s important to remember that these people have troubles and miserable moments too. Additionally to all of this and the biggest point I want to make about one thing I’ve learnt is the importance of not being presumptuous. Again, something that’s freely done. Let’s say you’re in a groggy mood, tired and under financial pressure. You go onto your social platforms and see that someone you know of is on a white sandy beach with their 5 star hotel nearby. Now because of the mood you’re in and because of the stresses you have in your life at that time, it circulates questions and doubts in your mind –
“what do I need to do to afford a holiday?”, “I will never experience anything like that at this rate”, “why can they afford a holiday and I can’t? Where am I going wrong?”.
But here’s the thing. For all we know that person may have put their luxurious holiday on their credit card. Yet it’s the last thing that crosses our mind, especially when we’re not in the best frame of mind. I can hand on heart openly say that I used to be guilty of this myself but thankfully many things have changed my perception on the matter, one of the biggest things being my old job in car finance where I had to help people that were in financial difficulty with their cars. I used to think that if you drove a nice car it was because you had money and a successful job. Wrong. Now I wonder if they’re even managing to pay for the finance on their car. My viewpoint has gone from one extreme to another. But we just don’t know do we? Everyone is in a different situation and it’s wrong to make yourself feel bad over assumption. It’s utterly pointless getting disheartened over something that we know nothing about and provoking damage to our mental wellbeing.
It’s sad, but it seems that so many people are basing their worth on the amount of likes and followers they have. We won’t take social currency to the grave with us, so why change your true identity to impress an audience? Why measure your self esteem with likes and follows? Be happy with whats going on around you. With whats real.
There’s been plenty of times I have felt suffocated by social media. I took a Facebook break for just under a year and most of my notifications are disabled on my phone so I don’t have to deal with a regular stream of notifications. It used to overwhelm me and make me feel like I needed to answer them there and then, when in reality I don’t at all. I like to check them when I want to check them.
I’m not advising anyone to come off of social media completely or to stop using the internet. I myself use it and will continue to do so. Social media can be good for many, many reasons. It’s our way of communicating with people, staying in touch with distant friends and documenting life events. But there is also that extremely dark side, too. Now ultimately, it’s not the social platforms themselves that can be negative; it’s the people who use it negatively and for all the wrong reasons who create that dark side. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc have no intention on generating sexual predators, fraud, cyber bullying, fake profiles or fake information. Just like they have no motive to destroy people’s self esteems and mental health. It’s all down to us as human beings. We have the capability to decide how we use social media and how we want it to be a part of our life. We have the power to choose whether it’s individually good or bad for us and when to detox from it. We are the ones sitting behind our social accounts choosing what to upload and how we chose to interact with other people’s posts and “life moments”.
I’ve got a little while to go before I need to start worrying, but being a first time mum (any day now) makes you want to protect your child from the ugly side of social media. Not completely isolate them from it, because that’s not fair, but just ensure they use it in the right way. To not let them fall into the the trap and let it get into their head. That would be my advice to any young teenager entering the world of social media.
Stay grounded to the real world.
Flashy cars are lovely, but regardless of your car, you’re still going to drive it to the same place everyday.
Whether you’ve got a rolex on your wrist or a £10 watch, it’s still going to tell you the time.
Your designer bag and your £5 Primark bag does the exact same thing; allow you to carry the same things to the same place every day.
I’m sure you can get my drift…