The pressures that we as a society are facing today are far greater than ever before and there is no sign that it slowing down anytime soon. Statistics show that the increase in depression and anxiety are climbing in leaps and bounds, and with each new generation it is emerging in younger and younger peer groups. So we have to ask ourselves then, what is causing this heightened growth in our mental instability and safety?
The answer to me is pretty simple, straightforward and even transparent. Modern day life as we know it in the 21st Century is unequivocally hard and although many concerns we may face today in the world have always existed in some way or another, they are much more intensified nowadays due to the ever-changing technology and social media platforms, leaving more and more adolescents and adults alike with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. These platforms are also causing an increase in the disconnect from ourselves and our loved ones the more time we spend on them, often generating low self-esteem and discontentment.
We now live in a world where Social Media and Smartphones have allowed us the ability to reach 100’s if not 1000’s of people within minutes, letting our “friends” and “followers” know that we have just received a promotion from work, or that we are sipping margaritas on the beach in Jamaica, or maybe we have just welcomed a new addition to the family or sadly we have just lost a loved one. Our willingness to post our most intimate moments in life can be met with a lot of mixed emotions. We become excited to share our latest accomplishment in our life and eagerly await all the likes, shares and comments to come, but what if your expectations are not met? Our excitement may soon turn to self-doubt or an immense feeling that maybe no-one really “likes” me since we have become a society that measures one’s popularity on how many thumbs up we receive.
Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are certainly not the root of my illness, but they have most definitely sparked an increase of impaired and harmful emotions arousing a downward spiral for me some days. These platforms have created somewhat of a catch-22 situation as I do appreciate how they have allowed me to reconnect with so many friends and family from my past, (some of whom have literally moved to the other side of the world) which would have been next to impossible to do without the power of social media. It also allows me to still feel connected with those closest to me; it has given me an empowering voice to a cause very near and dear to me; it promotes a sense of belonging through a mix of social groups; it permits me to showcase my thoughts and creativity; it keeps me updated on news and entertainment, and it simply enables me to never forget your birthday again.
Over the past few years, but even more so over the last six months, I have had to limit my use of social media as it repeatedly leaves me very susceptible and vulnerable to feelings of loneliness, guilt, insecurity, worthlessness and despair. Even though I have related to you all of the reasons why I value these platforms, they are, ironically, many of the same reasons why I devalue them, hence the catch-22. Scrolling down my news feeds, whether on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook is quickly met with very alarming emotions especially relating to human interest stories or the political state of the world right now. Commenting on other people’s news feeds causes me a great deal of anxiety, even as simple as a happy birthday message, and lastly, no matter what I am posting, whether its a new blog, a funny meme or a picture of me, I immediately suffer a very self-conscious and irresolute demeanor.
It is very easy to get caught up in the social media world, to get lost in it or to even become someone that you’re not, which is why I am trying to figure out its role in my life right now. My emotional well-being and its impact on my mental health depend on it, because let’s face it; it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I know my triggers, I know my limitations and I know all the benefits it’s given me so “like” it or not, I will somehow have to continue “following” and #trending along.