Part 2: Is anybody out there?
World Mental Health Day 2017 took place on 10th October this year. It’s a day which encourages people to recognise mental health and talk about what needs to be done to raise further awareness worldwide. What better way to promote this than through Social media?!
That day, I heard a giggle next to me at work. My colleague had seen a post on Instagram advertising the launch of a new ‘Eau de Parfum’ by recent Love Island contestant, Chris Hughes. But wait, as we clicked on it to view more, we were fooled. It was a stunt to encourage men not to bottle up their emotions for World Mental Health Day. The new scent, ‘L’Eau de Chris’, had been designed to symbolise the fact that 84% of men bottle up their emotions. Since the launch of the campaign, Chris has joined the male suicide prevention charity CALM as an Ambassador.
How clever. But isn’t it ironic?
A recent study called #StatusOfMind, carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement (YHM), showed Instagram to be the worst of the Social media sites, with the strongest link to mental health issues amongst young people. Some of these issues include: distorted body image, anxiety, depression, and Cyber bullying.
Let’s not forget, Instagram is a great way of spreading awareness of a charity or cause. But in terms of how younger generations are using it, it appears to be becoming detrimental to their social and mental development.
For one, it has created the ideal that you are not important if you don’t get a certain number of likes on your posts, or views on your latest Insta story. It has led people to feel lonelier and more isolated than ever, creating a flurry of anxiety each time you go on it. It has led kids to torment and bully others through commenting on photos, tagging, and creating secret group messages. It has fed the universal fear: that things are happening without you. Even if you just quickly popped to the loo for 5 minutes or, were simply out living your life!
Campaigns such as ‘Be Cool Be Nice’ look to tackle the global epidemic of Cyber bullying taking place via Social media. The ‘Be Cool Be Nice’ book, is a collation of digital features; utilising Snapchat filters and referencing celebrity. It intends to spread its message to all ages and encourages us all to use Social media in a positive way.
As a 24 -year old, I do feel lucky to have experienced some of my school years without Social media, or even a mobile phone. I remember getting my first (hand me down) phone; a bulky Nokia 3310, simply to text mum after school, telling her when I had got on the bus. Yes, there were still bullies, and there always will be. But, generally, the pettiness was left in the playground. Now, young children with access to smart phones have entered into a realm of aesthetic pressures and bullying on a whole new level. There is a pressure to look older, wear and own the latest trends, and be into the “right” thing. If you aren’t, and have no Instagram or Snapchat posts to prove that you are – you are virtually shunned.
Recently, I came across people (of my age) using apps to make themselves look completely different! From slimming waistlines, to air brushing and brightened eye colour. All I could think was, ‘What has the world come to? – this is seriously concerning…’ (shocked emoji face). It’s worrying how many young people are naïve enough to think that it’s achievable to look like a walking magazine ad. That’s a big shame.
I hold my hands up in saying that I am a hypocrite for posting this on the site I have mentioned above. But based on the facts and figures, I am assuming that it’s the best way of reaching people, especially the younger generations who have fallen prey to the drawbacks of social media.
I want to tell them that Social media doesn’t define who you really are, and it’s the people who care enough to want to get to know you for you, behind the screen, that truly matter. But, we are all learning. Let’s just not be afraid to be ourselves, and to challenge and ask questions. Let’s not let it take over.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this, feel free to leave a comment below.