Sunday, 11 March 2018

Social Media: Why Does It Matter So Much?

social media effect on mental health

Let's talk all of our fave topic.... SOCIAL MEDIA. We're all on it, even our nan's are on it (and probably their cats too), and some form of it the majority of us check daily (read: when we wake up, when we're on the loo, when we're on the train).

Just seven years ago, I was sitting in my uni room signing up to Instagram and trying out the 'Valencia' filter like it was the best thing since sliced bread. My first ever photo was a selfie of me taken on my Mac's webcam pouting before a shift at the pub in Ruby Woo (wow how times (and megapixels) have changed!)... Little did I know that the platform would be the core of my career right now - and the 'be all and end all' of the blogging community. 
When I first joined Instagram, it was treated like just another Facebook platform. We overshared menial shit and nothing about it was aspirational at all (read: nobody put avocado on their fucking bread because why would we?). I'd have probably never dreamt of following someone I didn't know and stalking their photos all day every day, because I wanted to see my friend's dog or what my aunty had for dinner. And not even in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible either, I didn't even care if it had a filter on... Nobody did. How mad does that sound? Today, we live in a much different world - where we definitely judge people for using the Valencia filter (it's clearly all about Lightroom and VSCO now, Instagram filters are SO over)... And on their follower count. Ouch.

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We've all mostly accepted that we can't even go a meal or a drink with our friends without using the platform, but the problem at hand is the increase in mental health issues among young people since the increase in the use of social media. Now, i'm not gonna get all technical on you cos i'm really not a doctor and you'd be in terrible hands if I were, but I am gonna get real. 

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Social media has changed the way we see everything and the way we connect with other people. We follow people from across the pond and have such access to their lives, we feel like we know them. We follow our favourite influencers' every step through life and we never miss a moment - but what we see throughout our entire feeds on all channels are the highlights. I recently went to a talk hosted by a CEO of an international social media agency and he really hit the nail on the head - we see the 'showreels' of people's lives that they've selected for us to see. The best bits, no bloopers. We see the avocado before it's scraped off and the ketchup goes on because it looks prettier, a month's worth of content shot on a one or two week holiday before they're back in the miserable weather with the rest of us, and the treats people have worked really hard for (but looks like they've bought spontaneously). We portray ourselves as lucky, blessed - anything a step towards aspirational we can, just for the 'gram.
At this point we all know this - but we're still sucked in to the feeling that we're not good enough and that our lives suck compared to what we see everyday. I'm guilty of this too. Unfortunately for me, my favourite accounts are constantly travelling the world, have rich husbands and perfectly preened hair - so my feed is filled with exotic locations I could probably only visit once a year (and i'd definitely have to choose one from them all!) and a terrible wanderlust that I unfortunately can't do a thing with. Does that mean I should feel shit about myself? Of course not. It just means that i'm a normal person and that's not my life.

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We see people preaching about unhealthy food, but really the most unhealthy thing we're all doing right now is comparing ourselves to others. Seeing the success of those we follow (the showreels) and feeling like failures because our moment hasn't happened yet. 
For me, it's watching all my old friends grow huge followings or get promoted in their careers and continually smash it in life, while I graft for my smaller Instagram along with everything else and feel left behind. But if you've ever had that feeling, just know, it didn't come without a price for everyone else either - they all worked super hard for what they got and it was their turn, and one day it will be yours too. You do you, don't let the follower counts get you down.   


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