The Down Side of Social Media
The popularity of social media platforms is an ever-growing phenomenon. These virtual communities like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow us to keep in touch with people across the world, see photographs and videos of things we otherwise wouldn’t see, share our thoughts and life events with others, glimpse into the lives of celebrities and promote businesses and products. Whilst these can be seen as good things, the modern obsession with social media can be very dangerous.
There are multiple negative effects of social media, including, but not limited to cyber-bullying, body shaming and internet addiction, which can lead to jealousy, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, problems with sleep, eating disorders and general unhappiness.
People say things online they wouldn’t say face to face, which can be hurtful and offensive. Comments can be misinterpreted and online arguments can ruin friendships. In order to fit in with what other people are posting, most of us maintain accounts which are online versions of ourselves.
This depiction is different to our true self; we only choose the best-angled photos, stick to a consistent colour palette, we use filters to brighten the sky or embellish our skin, we spend ages deciding on the right caption and hashtags trying to prove that we have the perfect life. We count the likes and base our value off the comments, trying to impress followers.
Let me tell you that you don’t need to impress anyone. Real friends will love and respect you for who you are in person, not who you are online.
Social Media as a Highlights Reel
When was the last time you posted a selfie saying “feeling rubbish, no-makeup day, in my track pants and eating a whole packet of cookies #noregrets”?
We rarely post anything so raw and real.
If you follow a friend or a celebrity or a ‘social media influencer’ that you think is perfect and has the perfect life, then let me remind you that they are as human as any of us. Everyone is struggling with something, we all have bad days, and sometimes posting about how great life is a coping mechanism to cover up something else.
Being honest and open is a much more helpful way to show your friends how you’re really doing, and in turn, receive support and encouragement. If every account was a true representation of real life, social media would be a very different place, and probably a much happier one.
“Nobody is perfect and nobody has a perfect life”
Social Media Detoxing
Here’s another suggestion, how about not posting anything at all?
Social media began as a way to communicate online, but has quickly turned into an all sharing platform where every cup of coffee and trip to the beach is documented and shared. There seems to be no such thing as a private life anymore.
A little challenge…
When was the last time you went out for the day, and never once thought about taking a perfect picture for your profile? When was the last time you just enjoyed life in the moment and didn’t document it on Instagram? Using social media can become as addictive as alcohol and cigarettes, so maybe try to leave your phone in your bag next time you go out with the girls. Challenge yourself and see what happens.
Here are a few more tips for using your time wisely on social media;
- Spend less time scrolling on social media. Set curfews on your phone so you only have a certain amount of social media time per day. Staring at a screen right before you go to bed isn’t good for you, so put your phone away at least half an hour before you sleep.
- Be your true self when you do make posts, remember you don’t need to impress anyone.
- Think before you post; is this true? Could this be negatively received by other people?
- Unfollow or mute accounts that make you feel negatively about yourself. This includes friends accounts if you find their ‘perfect’ posts unhelpful for your wellbeing.
- Encourage a group of friends to go social media free for a week! See if you can all go without for 7 days and treat yourself at the end if you all make it through.
- Use social media as a force for good. Be kind and considerate to one another when you’re online and build each other up rather than tearing each other down.
All hope isn’t lost and we can still all use social media for the better. There are plenty of accounts out there posting positive vibes and creating content which is good for your wellbeing and mental health. If you can’t find any personal profiles like this, you could be the start of one! Girls, only together we can inspire, encourage and cheer each other on, via social media and in real life.