As online business people, entrepreneurs, we are as part of our businesses, developing our own social networks, tribes, blogs, following and followers.
Having a presence online in the social media world is essential to be present in the cyber world platform.
Our daily ritual consists of Tweeting, Twittering, Face-timing, Facebooking, Snap chatting and What’s App-ing…
but I’ve been reflecting this week about the craziness of it all and I am asking…
Are we living a healthy life or are we destroying our minds through social media?
In a nutshell… Is Social Media destroying our minds?
I’ve written before on such topics (have a lookie at this one) and touched on Social Media a bit, but in a world where social media really dominates and thinking about all the negative articles that have been written about social media, I wanted to look at it a bit here.
I suppose the bottom line is it is all about balance.
Are you the type of person who is on social media all day, all evening and shut down conversations and interactions with your friends and family because well… you are on social media?
Personally, speaking I’m not.
Don’t get me wrong.
I love Twitter and check that a few times during the day, mainly the nature blogs, seeing what the butterflies and bees are up to.
I look at Facebook for short bursts and upload when I feel inspired.
We use Facebook for our businesses and connecting with those we are working with, so I see this as a tool more for that.
I’ve connected with some great people around the world on Facebook, but at the end of the day, I personally prefer the face to face contact with people.
But that’s me.
Some people I know live on social media.
They take selfies that often look nothing like them.
Their lives are filtered within an inch of their life.
Their images squeezed to the point where they are often squeezed out of their natural essence of who they are.
But heh, who am I to judge?
Good for them I say.
There’s too much judging these days.
Someone I know close to me was on all of this. They became depressed, and now they often take themselves off of social media.
They shut it down and withdraw from it because they said that they feel “it distorts their perception of what life is”.
I get that. I can relate to that.
There are too many false representations of people’s lives there.
And I only speak to those whose mind it is affecting.
Many of you might not know what I am talking about.
We only present, in the main, the glossy, going out, meeting everyone, all having great time photos and information about ourselves.
And that’s okay.
But the receivers, those less confident, less happy in their lives see that and they get an image of what other lives look like.
Well, you might say, it might motivate them.
Yes, it might. Hopefully, it does.
But then again.
We don’t upload taking out the bins, or having a shave, or unloading the shopping and cleaning the toilet.
Unless you are blogging about that sort of thing.
That’s where the arguments are for social media and its’ effects on us.
A similar argument to young people being bombarded by images of buffed, toned, beautiful people.
It is a distortion of reality.
The media has been criticised for many years for using models with unattainable looks of the usual mortals that frequent the pubs, shops and car washes of normal, everyday life.
For many it is unattainable.
The flip side of social media is that it makes some of the famous people appear more human.
More attainable, more real and that they do have ordinary days and bad hair days and spots. They seem at times more willing to show them.
Back in the ’80s when I was a teenager and putting posters up on my bedroom wall of Duran Duran and The Cure, those images were glossy.
Darn it, Simon Le Bon had more makeup on than my Mum.
And we didn’t know what they ate for breakfast or what they looked like in bed on a Sunday morning.
But these days we do. And that’s cool. I think it is anyway. But they are still not in our league because they are famous and rich and well… ‘Stars’.
It’s the rest of us that maybe want to gloss over all of that.
That want to project a creamy, cocoa buttered image of our lives.
And it makes many people in society ill because they think that it is all real and their lives are not as sugar-coated.
Well, that’s the argument anyway.
Abi Crossland in Mental Health today makes some connections and highlights some great research into this very subject.
The article talks about the fact that social media gives fuel to our endless need for validation, that;
‘I am somebody,
I am valued,
I am someone’.
Interestingly, talking about validating, I posted a paid advert promotion on Facebook for one of my articles a few months back.
It was about mental health in men specifically, I did it for 2 reasons one to bring people to read some more of my work and the other was to raise awareness of men’s mental health for Mental health week.
As a health and social care worker, I felt passionate about this and I was doing my bit.
Overall the article went down well.
But one person, a male, accused me of giving my money to Facebook for my own validation efforts and I should speak to people to help them, rather than blog about it.
This person, a fellow ‘brother’ who was a user of Facebook, was recognising the self-validation need somewhere, although it wasn’t my particular driver, and felt so compelled to say something about it that he wrote to me.
He ended it “love and peace”, which I thought was a nice way of ending the put down with some compassion as if it made it all okay.
As if you can say what you mean and be direct if you are nice and fluffy at the end.
But this made me reflect.
It made me think.
Was he reacting to the fact he didn’t want me to give my money to Facebook?
Or that I should not write anything, which is a silly argument as self-expression and creativity are much needed.
I was writing about something good. It wasn’t a shallow piece.
Or maybe he wishes he could write, but can’t get it out?
Maybe he was a very unhappy person and I just pissed him off that day.
I was trying to reach unhappy people and help them, which seems a bit ironic…
He made me reflect though. For that I am grateful.
What are any of us doing on social media if it’s not self-validation and distorting the reality of our lives?
Abi’s article goes deeper than this, she says that social media has the potential to actually harm us. Emotionally harm those in society who are vulnerable, at risk of depression self-loathing or self-harm.
Having worked with people who experience such troubles in their lives, that statement doesn’t surprise me.
Historically I have found that people in such circumstances reach out to the internet for comfort, for connection. Whether it is an Xbox virtual reality type escapism, computer games, chat rooms (bit retro here).
The needs are the same but the way they do it changes.
Social media can be great.
I’ve worked with many people where social media and the internet is fantastic.
It opens up the world to people who are confined to their home for a variety of reasons.
They can live on-line and the impact is phenomenal.
However we cannot ignore that social media has potential, and I use this word carefully, a potential to increase emotional harm for people who find themselves vulnerable, and at risk of depression, low self-esteem, poor body image.
Research (The Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends Study, 2017) shows that young people born in the past 20 years will spend approx. 7 years, yes 7 years of their life on their phones and mobile devices.
And much of that time is on social media.
I have children and yes as a Dad, I worry about that.
What interests me and I think it supports the ‘validation’ issue is all the Likes and Hearts and ‘feedback’ we need to validate who we are on social media.
Someone I know, it appears, goes through liking everything that anyone connected to them puts up, they evidently want the same for themselves.
That person has self-esteem and self-confidence characteristics and I worry about their state of mind at times.
But why do we do it? Why does it mean so much? I feel a bit cheesed off if I don’t get a like for a thumbs up for a post I’ve spent ages writing up.
But this structure has been put in place by Facebook, social media designers, they have built it this way and have they considered the consequences of such design?
No, I doubt they have.
These validations from our peers confirm our existence, our self-worth on some level. Like my page. Like my article, video, post, website. Like me !!!!!
Goddamit, like me!
That’s what it feels like from where I am standing.
Yes, there are impacts on me I’m sure, as an individual. And maybe you feel it too?
I am an observer, a user of social media, a male who currently is not experiencing depression or low self-esteem. But imagine how someone lonely, at home, and feeling rubbish about themselves could feel?
Is social media damaging our mental health?
I don’t know. You need to make up your own mind.
But as I have laid out here in this article, it is a possibility.
We do as humans crave the attention and touch, emotional contact with others.
Even some people in abusive relationships for a variety of reasons crave the attention of those they wish to make happy, those who are abusing them.
People are complex after all.
So related to social media, any interaction, whether it is negative or positive is something to say we are alive, we matter.
What can we do? I don’t have all the answers, al I do know is that we have a responsibility as people who use social media to be kind in how we use it.
The person at the other end of the Facebook interaction or Twitter is a human being.
We may never meet them but I think we can all do our bit and post in a compassionate, real and loving way.
And overall encourage users of social media to use it in a balanced way and for it to not replace real interactions with real people.
If you want to read more of my musings and articles have a look here on my blog on the Axe your 9 to 5 website.
Or if you want to see what education I am getting that is changing my life around and getting out of the 9 to 5 by building my own online business, there are 7 free videos that will blow your mind.
They will show you that there are alternatives out there that any person can achieve if they want to. Act here for the videos.
So, are you going through a major change in your life?
What are you experiencing? How do you face those barriers and challenges?
What are your experiences of social media, do you agree or disagree with what I have said here?
Leave a comment below and let me know.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Take back control.