It’s 2021; the pressure is on in many aspects. Social media has been a saviour to many of us during the pandemic; however, has it made cyberbullying that much worse? As a whole, it’s a worldwide issue on how people are attacked on social media. As human beings, we are naturally social creatures who actively look for the companionship of others, whatever the relationship. Our connections have a huge impact on our mental health and overall happiness. Being socially connected can ease issues like stress and anxiety and can even boost your self-worth! On the flip side, if you lack strong social connections, this can cause a serious risk to your mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
Many of us rely on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and even more to connect with the world. At the same time, each platform does have its individual benefits; it’s important to remember that it can never replace real-world human connections. In-person content triggers the hormones that alleviate stress, making you happier and healthier. Although technology is designed to bring people together, spending too much time engaging on the platforms can make you feel far more lonely and isolated, testing your mental health. If you find yourself spending excessive time on social media and notice feelings of sadness, frustration or loneliness, it may be time to re-evaluate your online habits.
Virtual interactions do have positive aspects such as:
Communication and staying up to date with family and friends around the world
Finding new friends communities; people of similar interests
Raising awareness for worthwhile causes
To seek and offer emotional support
Outlets for your own creativity/business plans
It’s apparent that social media has great features and can help us in times of need. Despite this, as years go on, we have ongoing issues affecting our mental health. Racism is still there. Sexism at its worse and influenced self-harm has dramatically increased. While we have many people take action on their platforms to help reduce these hate speeches, we have the dark web doing what it does best, making us feel inadequate on the other side of our device, this leading us to self-hate on our appearance in some circumstances. We see images on the web, though we know that some we are viewing have been manipulated, they can still make you feel insecure about how you look or how you live your life. An Influencers job is to influence us into buying the products they use or look a certain way. What we have to remember is that these people get paid to look good. Comparing yourself is never good for your mental health; we don’t need to look a certain way to be accepted, despite that social media and influencers can tell us otherwise. Envy is a bad feeling to experience for anyone. However, it is also a natural emotion. What we need to remember that not everything we see is real and don’t allow social platforms that make us feel inadequate on our screens. You are in control.
This is now leading us to the topic of Fear of missing out (FOMO). FOMO is an expression that has been around for a while. FOMO can seriously trigger anxiety and worry, which is very common in all of us. Social media sights exacerbate how fun someone’s life is, so when we watch others having “fun”, we tend to feel as if we’re missing out and can impact our self-esteem. Anxiety can arise when feeling like this, leading to the constant checking of your phone/tablet. This is not good for your mental state, can cause safety issues while driving or making you miss out on sleep. Prioritising social media is a big no. By doing this, you’re isolating yourself from the real world, reducing your in-person interactions. The online world becomes more real, leading you to ignore the feelings of anxiety and FOMO you are suppressing. Platforms are designed to snare your attention and keep you online. This is how they make their money. However, it’s much like a gambling compulsion or addiction to drugs or alcohol. Social media usage creates psychological cravings.
Cyberbullying is constantly happening; recent 2021 studies show that overall, 36.5% of people feel they have been a target of online abuse, 87% of teenagers have witnessed others get bullied online. Though we are at a high of online hate, many worldwide stars use their social media platform to help others recognise the awful effect words can have on others. For example, starting on 30th April 2021, English Football League and Women’s Super League clubs will join a four-day boycott of social media to combat abuse and discrimination that we still sadly see today. “By removing ourselves from the platforms, we are making a symbolic gesture to those with power. We need you to act. We need you to create change”. Said, one Football player. “Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable, and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue,” Premier League CEO Richard Masters said in a statement. What we see here is worldwide role models taking that step to make a change. By them speaking up and boycotting social media, others may be influenced to think about their actions. Bullying will never completely go, but as a community, we want to see a difference. The more people take a step back and think before we speak, will have a huge impact on the mental health of many.