We live in the digital era, and in this digital era modern innovations rule. One of the most prominent modern innovations there is, is social media. Designed to be a network of global virtual platforms that allow for instantaneous and easy communication around the world, social media has more than lived up to the hype that has propelled over the years. But on the flip side of that same coin, is the dark undercurrent of social media. That decidedly negative undertone is hinged on the reality that social media has heavily impacted mental health – and not in the most positive of ways. Social media is an environment that emphasises the appeal of honest and open communication and connection, but it is also an environment that can be incredibly toxic for people to invest their energy and time into. And it all comes down to the comparative nature of social media, and how that impacts those that are struggling with themselves. This is an important issue, and finally it is getting the attention that it has always deserved. As the world hinders on the verge of a mental health crisis that borders on epidemic standard, this conversation is more important than ever.
The complication with social media is while it is intended to boost communication, it also sometimes inevitably isolates individuals from the real world and their real connections. The more energy and time that one invests in the social media landscape, the more disconnected they become with the real world around them. This is where problems often arise. Social media can be a dangerous, even fatal environment, and the reality is that there simply is not enough awareness surrounding this truth. Because of the comparative nature that has evolved over the history of social media, users can feel an inclination to mould themselves into what the social media platforms appear to find the most widely appealing aesthetic, body image, or way of communicating. This often leads to inauthentic representations of the self, which can obviously lead to some very serious health implications. The pressures of social media warrant a type of mental health strain that, quite frankly, is unparalleled to anything else.
There is a massive pressure in the landscape of social media platforms. Individuals can feel pressured to buy likes on Instagram, or try to change how they look to fit into the standard perception of what social media deems to be the most appealing aesthetic or approach. Additionally, they can spend hours and hours investing energy, time, and even money into ensuring that the representation of themselves they give out via social media, is one that puts their best [virtual] foot forward, so to speak. And while this can work for some time, it nearly always comes to a point where it becomes more of a problem than a distraction from the true self. The immense pressure to not only concede to those perceived ideals online, but to maintain those ideals over time, can be quite taxing. This is where cracks tend to appear, and if left unchecked, these cracks can bloom into dark bruises that become more and more difficult to contain. And just like bruises, it becomes obvious too often after the damage is done, that there is even a problem.
The links between mental health and social media are becoming more and more pronounced the more that studies and research focus on this topic, and the more that awareness becomes more prominent. When individuals spend so much time on their social media, they inevitably drain themselves emotionally and mentally. It can be exhausting to constantly see what is perceived as many people living the perfect life – especially if their own life does not feel even close to what their perceived ideal idols and friends live online. While it is easy enough to tell someone to remember that social media is often (if not always) a highlight reel of someone’s life, a snapshot of what really goes on, it is quite another to tell that to someone who is struggling with their mental health because of that reason. Mental health is a serious issue, and it is one that, quite frankly, is not given nearly as much attention as it should be. There is a very real sense of isolation that goes hand in hand with heavy use of social media, and it is important to pay attention to not only your own use of social media, but those close to you, and to do your best to let them know you are there if they need to reach out.
The digital era is absolutely rife with exciting innovations and revolutions that have changed life as we know it, in many different ways. One of the most globally renowned innovations of all has been, without a doubt, social media. A revolution initially created to serve as an all-new frontier of instantaneous global communication, social media has since ballooned to become so much more over time. While in many ways, social media is an immensely positive space, it can also be a place of dark undertones that can be difficult for some individuals to deal with. The comparative nature of social media today has resulted in the realisation that, for some, social media activity can have a devastating impact on their mental health. This is an issue that, up until recently, was given nowhere near the amount of attention that it warranted, but now that the world is bordering on a mental health epidemic, action is finally, at long last, being taken. Social media can have devastating effects on users, and it is important to pay close attention to the signs that people are struggling. Lives literally depend on it.