The idea behind social media is brilliant, it connects us. Initially it was that simple, maintaining connections between people who’re friends in real life or building virtual relationships between people who may never, otherwise, meet.
But it seems to have taken on a life of its own, making demands on us to present a specific “public friendly” version of ourselves, we get caught up in how many ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and ‘follows’ we’ve had and it makes 41%* of us feel lonely. That doesn’t sound right!
In 27 – 64%* of us, social media evokes feelings such as resentment, sadness, anxiety and jealousy and it makes 48% of us feel self-conscious.#
We’ve had to invent a word for that special photo that’s usually filtered – the infamous selfie!
We’re feeling awfully confused about social media, many feel concerned about being over monitored or ‘spied’ upon in the evolving technological world, yet we worry that no-one will pay attention to or ‘like’ what we post.
I’ve had a mixed relationship with social media. When I’ve been less inclined to leave the house (as a depressed introvert, it’s an easy place to end up!) it’s been a way of keeping in touch with the world and interacting with people at a comfortable distance.
Social media is great at connecting people with similar experiences, I wouldn’t have met these people without social media but I developed relationships that boosted my recovery as we were ‘in it together’!
28% of people say they feel motivated by social media and 43% feel happy while using it.*#
As I recovered from anorexia I had amazing support from the Berkshire Eating Disorders Service and their Support, Hope and Recovery Online Network (SHaRON!). I didn’t have to sit awkwardly in a room and do ‘group therapy’ – I just logged on whenever, wherever – not only getting the support (from therapists and fellow sufferers) when battling my way through a bowl of soup but also giving support – this 2 way process was important.
But at the same time, there are some negatives! How many of us can say our facebook statuses give an accurate picture of our life? At any given time, a Facebook wall could be covered in wedding, sonogram and baby pics – giving the impression everyone is either planning babies, having babies or caring for babies and all of this is shiny and happy. We all know this is no-where near the truth! Most people aren’t thinking about babies or children at all and those that are, are stressed out about it, rather than it all being smiles and laughter!
Mental illness is great at making us feel isolated, alone and completely incapable of doing life, the biased Facebook wall can compound these feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying people shouldn’t share photos of their exciting moments. When unwell, it’s important to hold onto the fact that people do not write “struggled to out of bed today” or “washed my hair then watched TV”. Like good news rarely makes the newspapers, bad or neutral news doesn’t hit the Facebook status!
What’s more, while most of us are posting the edited highlights, 36%* of people admit they’re somewhere between ‘jazzing up’ their online profile and it being a complete lie.
Although social media can have a negative impact at times, 63% believed taking social media away would have a negative impact on them (with 1% believing they would feel heartbroken!)
There’s no debate, it’s here to stay, perhaps we all need to be careful, be clear about how we use it and don’t let it become a source of unrest or unhappiness – this is our choice to make!
*All stats from a survey of 1000 adults in the UK carried out by PushON, an eCommerce agency. (# Participants could choose multiple feelings). Survey carried in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week.