For the past decade, social media changed on how we think, look and interpret our world. Social media has given a platform for awareness on mental health, environment, injustice, political and social views. With a click of button, our world is interpreted through many eyes, however not all are seen in a positive light. Despite some positive impact that social media has it has also increased the perception of perfection, such as how someone should look like, how someone should feel, how someone should act, how someone should interact. Social media is an interpretation platform which is often subjective from person to person. One may look at a profile picture and may see a beautiful person while another may dissect on what the profile picture should look like. Social media definitely has an impact on one’s mental health. How? Imagine this for a minute:
A young woman, decided to change her profile picture from a filtered one to unfiltered. You may think that others would accept her as she is, yet she received numerous comments, calling her “pig” “ugly” “loser” . Now imagine the young woman reading this. She just wanted to be accepted for who she is and not what others wanted her to be. The name calling continues, and this young woman felt unwell, she started to isolate herself, withdraw from friends, family, school. She stayed in her room with the blinds closed, and just stared at the words that she was called by her so called friends. The names continued and the young woman learned to accept the words she was being called. The young woman took her own life, based on what social media portrayed her as – unwanted.
The co-relation between social media and mental health is fairly new, yet we continue to see tragic stories like the young woman on a daily basis.
In 2016 Anxiety UK conducted a survey on social media use – the survey indicated about 53 percent of social media users had changed their behaviour and 51 percent of these were reported to be negative impacts on social media use. Another alarming statistics according to Enough is Enough an organization that assists in helping families have safer guidelines for internet usage, about 95 percent of teens using any social media platform have witnessed cyberbullying! 95 percent! An alarming rate!
Social media is a great place for advocacy however to outsource the positive from the negative we must understand triggers, signs when someone is feeling that social media has had an impact on their lives. So how do we help?
For every negative word, we Speak up! For every negative outburst, We Use our Voice! For every negative outcome, We share our heartbreaking story. We overturn and outsource the real, the raw about the darkness as it is the sharing our story, that changes the outcome. We can use our voice to change , however to know that when we no longer have a voice, we seek help so others can be our voice . Lending a hand, a listening ear and a compassionate heart, not only changes our view of the world but it changes how we look at ourselves!