The relationship between social media and mental health
More often than ever, I hear people saying that they want to experience a social media cleanse/detox. This basically means that you will not use any social media for a couple of days or even for a week or longer than that. Yes, that also includes ditching your nightly scroll session through Instagram and breaking your Snapchat-streak. In this blogpost I will share my view on the downsides of social media that cause this urgence to shift your behavior, this is also often linked to a decelerating mental health level.
The fact that people spend a lot of hours on social media platforms on a daily basis can’t be denied. It has become part of our life to share our life and stories online and in return peek at others’. Once you have opened your Instagram app, it is quite difficult to close it and return to ‘real life’ again. It can become an obsession, which could be dangerous.
I also spend a lot of time on social media and even more time thinking about it. I am constantly thinking about content ideas to upload, mainly to my blog but I also think about what I would like to post on the gram. Especially when I am on vacation: I really enjoy photography as a way to capture a moment forever and to be able to look back at it. Sometimes I also find it quite hard to not take any pictures and really live in the moment. It is a huge passion of mine, which can sometimes take over a bit too much. A bad habit, I know. I see a good picture in everything I look at when I am in a new place: you could say that there is a photo-opportunity overload. And then, once I have taken a lot of cool photos, the question arises: ‘Which are Instagram-worthy?’. Followed by the question: ‘How many should I upload?’.
I have had such memorable trips and I, in those cases, really see Instagram as a collage of great experiences (exactly as my Instagram bio says). I made a roadtrip through the USA last summer and made so many fantastic memories which I photographed. I wanted to post most of them on my social media because they were a perfect fit in, essentially, the collage of the highlights of my life. At the same time I was questioning myself; I hope my followers won’t think that I am bragging, I hope they don’t find it annoying that I post so much, I hope they don’t find me self-consumed and egocentric because I only post photos of myself. You could say that I was (and still am) extremely focused on what other people might think of me and my Instagram habits, at a certain point it give me quite a bit of stress and fear; two things I don’t want to feel when I am on vacation. But then I realized that I don’t do all of this for others. I maintain my social media because I want to be able to look back at it and relive these amazing moments. I found out that when I look back at pictures from past vacations/stages in my life, I tend to enjoy looking at photos with myself in it more than photos from just a location. The last option is a bit more boring to me, I think it is nice to see how I have changed when looking at an older picture. That’s the reason why I only post pictures like this. I never ever have the intention to brag and show people how fun and cool my life is. No. I just want to share a part of my life on here, for me and for those who like to see it as well. If people don’t like my content, then so be it. I still think it is quite hard to be okay with this, since I am quite insecure and want to always please everybody and make sure they don’t think bad things about me. All of this is kind of out of my control. At the end of the day, it is most important that I like what I am doing. I don’t have to share everything, but if I think I have a ton of nice photos which I would love to post, then that should be totally okay as well.
As a said earlier, I only upload the nice parts of my life to social media. And I know, I am not the only one. When looking at someone else’s feed, it is sometimes hard to keep this in mind. His/her life might seem perfect, which can be fun to see while at the same time it can be confronting. ‘Why can’t I be like him/her?’, ‘Why don’t I live his/her life?’. Don’t forget that what is shown online is nothing more than the sparkle of life; there can be a lot of dusty moments in between these.
Skinny girls, pretty girls, perfect girls. They all show up on most people’s feeds a couple of times a day. These (sometimes) unrealistic beauty standards seem to get more and more real the more often you encounter them. Insecurities arise compared with a portion of self-doubt. Well, I can tell you that filters and Photoshop are used on most of these people and that the right angles are key. It is refreshing to see that more and more influencers get rid of filters and try to keep it real. I usually don’t use any filters; it also saves you a lot of time ;)! I can understand that being confronted with all of the online beauty can really harm your self-esteem. It is hard not to compare yourself in situations like these. Keeping in mind the things I mentioned above might already help but still; it is hard. I struggle with my confidence on a daily basis (though these roots lie deeper than the social media world) and I think it takes some time to develop this and be happy with yourself. Maybe it might be a good idea to unfollow people that, according to you, make you feel less about yourself.
Social media is a big part of our lives and causes us to think about it even when we are not using it. I don’t think that social media has to be banned from our daily life for good (because it also brings a lot of beautiful things) but I do think that we should take it less seriously and just do/post whatever we want and as frequently as we want. Don’t worry about what others will think; you do you. Don’t see yourself as less-worthy because of the looks of others online. You are beautiful, you are amazing, you are talented and you are smart. Remember that while scrolling through insta the next time. See it as something that inspires you and ensures connections. And most importantly; let’s keep it real. Don’t forget to put away your phone a little more often, real-life interaction and experiences beat the online ones (you won’t miss out on anything crucial, I promise), for sure!
Lots of love,