Updated: Jun 15, 2020
SoMe, a rather apt shortening of Social Media.
The world of social media started a long time before Facebook and Twitter. Long before the advent of free internet and social sharing, the more mature amongst us will remember being passed photocopied pieces of paper with jokes, quotes and inspirational tidbits. I remember my mum being given one at work that would be by today's standards considered NSFW (not safe for work), so she read it when she got home; I remember her laughing out loud before stuffing the note back in her bag. There were notes passed around the classroom, some designed to poke fun and make people laugh, but some written to incite a more animated response - something we would consider today to be 'triggered'.
It's always been there, but the form it takes changes.
But the more it has evolved, has it become more dangerous?
Paper written notes, photocopies of jokes etc. were designed to either inspire, inform or incite. If you were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of the inciteful behaviour of others, chances are it may have knocked your confidence or worse, caused depression and/or anxiety. At the time before the wobbly web, beauty standards promoted by the printed media added to the problem. Parents, teachers and other individuals who had been through it all and had consequently grown to love the skin they were in, or at least accept who they were and tried desperately to give advice to those who were going through it, namely teenagers; and predominately young ladies.
They have dieticians working for them!
Hollywood only employs the beautiful!
These were just a few of the comments I remember hearing. In essence, those helpful people were trying to put a barrier between reality and the unreal. Little did they know that the comments were merely pushing the unattainable even further away and not dealing with the individuals confidence. Hindsight eh!?
Fast forward to today and we're no better off. The inspirational quotes, the information we share and the inciteful behaviours of others are even more accessible now than it has ever been. It's also seen in a broader range of age groups, making it even more of an issue we need to address than ever before. But let's focus on those beauty standards that I mentioned earlier. Some media outlets have softened their approach to showing beauty standards that are out of reach and opted for a more natural look which is excellent, but that's for another discussion. The issue we find ourselves facing now is one of reality. With a younger generation so focused on fame having access to social media, the problem has shifted. It's so easy to fake a lifestyle. A photo is 1/200th of a second - that's a second divided into 200.
That's faster than you can blink.
But so many people compare their own existence to this minuscule fraction of time to their own life and quietly long to be the same. This is damaging. So very damaging.
The grass may appear greener on the other side, however, chances are the grass is fake.
What is the damage though?
On average, according to https://www.oberlo.co.uk/blog/social-media-marketing-statistics we spend 3 hours per day on social media. That has to take its toll.
Self-esteem is a massive worry for me. We all have our fair share of insecurities, but comparing ourselves to others by how they cleverly use social media won't help our feelings of self-doubt. I feel lucky to have become happy in my skin but I have children and it worries me to death. Likes are a massive part of the self-esteem issue, the more the better, right? I’m not so sure! My advice to dealing with this is be more conscious of the time spent scrolling through other people’s profiles; this could help focus more on yourself and allow you time to pursue an activity that boosts your self-confidence.
At first, I found FOMO funny, but as I see youngsters forever more starting to feel like they're not being included in chats and worse, physical social situations, I can see the damage it's having to the human connection. Adverts like Dominoes ‘JOMO’ is a great way to flip the message, but in practice it’s hard! If you have to be online and take part, be the one to start the conversation but be different, ask questions and engage with all those that take part – your network will value that more than you think!
Sleep is another worry. I can't remember how many times I have been scrolling through various feeds and getting worked up with anxiety stopping me from having a good peaceful sleep. I’ve resorted to an old alarm clock in the bedroom and I leave my phone downstairs overnight. It’s improved my quality of sleep!
Can you help? Do you have some top tips? Put your thoughts in the comments below and I'll use them to create a crowdsourced top tips infographic that shows the reader how to protect their mental health whilst using social media.