LETTING DOWN YOUR EMOTIONAL GUARD -ONE POST AT A TIME

The alarm rings. You wake up groggy and tired.  Your eyes are still closed. You search for your phone. Check your news feed. Perhaps some new likes on your latest Instagram post?  Maybe wonder why your new DP got less likes than the previous one? Is this an uncanny description of your usual morning routine?

If so, congratulations! You are now part of the bandwagon of people whose lives more or less revolve around social media.

The ”#StatusOfMind” survey, published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health, included input from 1,479 young people (ages 14 to 24) from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. From February through May of 2017, people answered questions about how different social media platforms impacted 14 different issues related to their mental or physical health. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram do have their benefits. They scored points in areas such as self-expression, spreading positive awareness, community building and emotional support.

The story of “Badra- the dog who lived” is a beautiful example of how social media helped bring the perpetrators to justice and ultimately find the abused dog a loving home.

However, they all fared badly in areas such as reduced sleep quality, bullying,depression, body shaming  and FOMO ( Fear of missing out).  Platforms like Instagram are frequented by models and actors, whose photos can set unrealistic expectations for women and men, leading to lowered self-esteem and body imaging. Australian Instagram model Essena O’Neill, 19, went viral with a video on why she quit social media calling it “fake” and saying it made her “miserable.” She brought out the fallacy and sacrifices behind every photo, and urged others to step of out this “unreal world”.

 

“Facebook depression” is a relatively new term that researchers have come up with.  According to the first HomeNet study in 1998, there was a statistically significant relationship between Internet use and depression. The study authors originally argued that Internet use actually causes depression due to replacing concrete off-line relationships with “less personal social relationships” online, something they dubbed the “Internet paradox” since social technology originally intended to make people less isolated, apparently reduced well-being.  The users start thriving on social media appreciation and directly link it to their self-worth.

 “Cyber bullying” is another common situation that often leads to depression, anxiety and insecurity in the victim.  There has been many cases where this has actually fueled suicide.

   

“Facebook envy” was another term put forth by the researchers. People going through some rough patches in their life, may further spiral into depression or get consumed with jealousy when they see their friend’s success stories. Though the triggers for Facebook envy may be different than that of Facebook depression, they can lead to users judging themselves more harshly and feeling that they have failed to accomplish anything in life.

A lot of good can be achieved using social media. Focus on that, and make sure you are wary of its ill effects. Yes. People’s opinions do matter. However, your opinion should come before theirs.  Do not thrive on compliments or comments on a post to make you feel loved. Self-appreciation should come from within. Focus on building stronger, offline relationships, and spend less time on online ones. Do not let down your emotional guard to complete strangers; instead focus on strengthening ties that matter. Love yourself, and the world will follow!

                                                                                      -M.A.Ramya

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