Friday, 8 June 2018

Social Media - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

So last week I was in my old secondary school giving a talk to first years about social media and mental health and it really got me thinking about the whole thing, hence why I'm doing this blogpost to share my thoughts with ye.
First of all I was chatting with the first years so they're 12/13 years of age, they're growing up completely different to my generation as they're growing up with social media and technology. I joined social media when I was 16 and bought my first iPhone when I was 17. In comparison to them when the majority got iPhones and started on social media around the age of 11 or 12.

When it came to their favourite social media and what they are on, it was evident that Instagram and Snapchat were the favourites. Back in the day when I was their age, Facebook was all the rage and even now everyone my age is on Facebook. Very little of the first years said they were on Facebook which shows that social medias aren't permanent and have phases when it comes to their popularity. We don't know in ten years time will we be using the same social medias or will social medias even still be around.
A lot of research says that social media is detrimental for a young person's mental health and I do agree, it can be awful but if you understand it, know it's not real life, and know when to stop it can be an amazing thing.
Take Instagram for example, I think the worst thing that can happen to your mental health is the comparison that happens in between your life and someone's 'life' on Instagram. I put life in inverted commas because it's not real life. I showed a very simple example to try and explain this to the class of my Instagram. It was a picture of UCC and the day I posted it I wasn't even in college that day, you don't know when people take the photo, how many filters are on and whether Photoshop or Facetune were used. Half the time the photo posted ends up looking completely different to the original photo, it's not real life. You can 't compare yourself to a filtered, edited picture of someone to your real life self. This can lead to troubles with your mental health because of this comparison.

One of my best friends said to me last year said she was jealous because it looked like I was having an amazing summer because of what I was posting on Instagram. When in fact I was up at 5am working 10 hour shifts waitressing for 5 days a week. If I did something nice after my shift or when I was off I might have taken a picture and posted it because it was a highlight, I wasn't going to be posting pictures of myself working all day.
Social media is a highlight reel and there is no comparison between your real life and some highlight reel. Because of the way our society is you want to put your best foot forward on social media, you're not going to put up a picture of you bawling crying during a breakdown. As Theodore Roosevelt said "Comparison is the thief of joy".
Photography by Laura 
The amount of followers and likes people have cam seem like instant self esteem. If a selfie you put up gets over 100 likes and everyone is commenting saying you look fab, that's adding to your self esteem. If you don't have as many followers as your friends or a photo you put up does really bad you might think oh I didn't look nice in that photo at all it can create a bad relationship between you and your body which can lead to low self esteem and bad mental health.

Younger people are more influenced by things they're surrounded by so if you're following someone who always is incredibly negative online or you don’t like what they're saying, unfollow them, there's an unfollow button for a reason. That’s when you take control of your mental health on social media. You should control what you see and who you see it from because it could have a negative affect on you. The unfollow button is there for a reason. 
A lot of research shows social media is bad for your mental health but if you use it right it can actually help you. Take me for example,  I used it as a distraction when I was going through a rough patch mental health wise. I knew it wasn’t real life, I just used it to take inspiration from looking at unreal photography or makeup looks or fashion ideas because I follow loads of photographers and bloggers and creative people, not only my friends

I think Snapchat is more 'real' than Instagram. There's no editing or Photoshopping because the app doesn't allow you to do that, it's a take it and post it type of situation. The thing with Snapchat is the pressure you feel to post something when you're with someone doing something because you feel you have to 'prove' you were with them and that you have a life. We all do it, myself included. When you're with your friends put down your phone and enjoy the company or if you're at a concert don't feel the need to Snapchat it all. Of course take pictures and videos for your own memories and be able to look back on but don't feel the pressure that you have to post things on your story. 
Top - Asos 
Jeans - Topshop
Shoes - Vans 
Belt - Penneys 
Jewellery  - Vintage & Penneys 

It can be dangerous too, this isn’t turning into an internet safety talk but like snap maps where you can see exactly where someone is is terrifying and almost stalker like so you always need to mind yourself when you are online because you really don’t know who can see it.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is amazing like I’m still in contact with friends in Chicago and Italy and when my friends go erasmus next year I can chat to them everyday.
Technology is literally saving lives with all the new medicine and research and it's getting better and better everyday. Years ago you had to go and read a book to get knowledge about something but now you have the whole world at your fingertips with Google.
Social media and technology are amazing thing but if they're not used in the right mindset they can do major damage to your mental health. When you're online remember not to compare yourself to others and their 'lives'. Social media isn't permanent and not real life. Don't put pressure on yourself to post things or even be on social media, you don't have to. Put your phone down and go live your life, make sure to put your mental health first.
Ailbhe x 


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