As someone who already struggles with mental health issues (a cocktail mixture of depression and anxiety with a sprinkling of childhood-grown low self-esteem, yum), I’ve recently had to face the reality that social media exacerbates and fuels my feelings of low self-worth. I’m worried about sounding pathetic as I write this but there’s no getting around it so I’m going to be fully open and vulnerable. In a world where we, as humans, are already prone to comparing ourselves to others, smartphones and social media have made it so much easier to do so, by placing us in an environment that routinely reminds us what everyone around us doing at all times, what they have and what we don’t. And many of us aren’t passive users anymore when it comes to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we’re right in the thick of it.
The longer I’ve used social media, from the days of yore, adding widgets to my Bebo profile (shoutout to DJ Cammy) to now, social media has become another world of its own, existing within and outside of our world, in an unprecedented way. Social media allows us to so easily categorise and quantify our lives based on likes, comments, and shares. And I’m fully down the rabbit hole, dress billowing over my head, hands still firmly grasping my phone and thumbs infinitely scrolling as I go down, down, down.
If there’s ever been a social media site, I’ve probably been on it at some point. And I’ve realised that my mind has started equating getting none or fewer likes and shares to me, myself as a person, not being enough; not good enough, not clever enough, not pretty enough, not funny enough, not talented enough, not interesting enough. My mind has become accustomed to numbers and notifications to an unhealthy degree where it genuinely affects how I feel and how I see myself. It makes it easier for me to tear myself down, in many ways including physically, or become fixated on how I may not have or be doing certain things that ultimately I wish I was. Social media bombards us every single day with the lives of others, from what they’re wearing to what they’re eating, from who they’re dating to what they look like. It’s a hard trap to get yourself out of, and one I’m definitely still working on. Because I don’t want to feel like this – neither the pressure of having to create and post content that will attract people and likes constantly nor the unhappiness that comes with not seeing those numbers go up.
This unhealthy link between myself and social media is probably not entirely social media’s fault (if we remember that cocktail from before), but still social media presents a much bigger problem than me and my own personal mental health (Link 1/Link 2/Link 3) and I don’t know what the solution is. I know that, for myself, taking social media breaks helps to give me a much-needed reality check, in both good and bad ways, from time to time. It helps me reconnect with my life, removed from those pressures of numbers and hearts, and it’s something I’d recommend everyone do every now and then.