In today’s social media era, broadcasting your every move has pretty much become the norm. The likes, comments, shares and other ratings are all totaled, giving us a false measure of our value, one notification at a time.
What starts as a way of sharing experiences with others can turn into obsession for approval and take a toll on mental health and self-image, especially for women, who are constantly under pressure to conform to beauty ideals.
A recent #StatusofMind report conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement, showed the positive and negative effects of social media on 18-24 year olds’ mental health.
In this report, Instagram was rated the worst social media network for mental health and well-being. It was associated with high levels of anxiety, depression and bullying.
Social media isn’t necessarily the root cause of depression, but it does intensify the problem.
Yeah, it does seem a little extra, but it’s definitely understandable.
Most of the Instagram accounts I follow (outside of my friends) are people who look like they’re just enjoying life. I follow food bloggers, travelers, fitness freaks, YouTubers’, fashion gurus etc (basically any account that could entertain me when I should be working). With all of that in mind, you can see why it’d be so easy to scroll through the gram and start feeling some type of way. FOMO is a real thing guys! You can end up setting unrealistic expectations and unnecessarily comparing yourself to others.
If you’re not meeting certain beauty or body ideals, it’s easy to feel like an outcast.
The society we live in encourages us to constantly compare ourselves, to be competitive and to work towards a standard of perfection that is impossible to achieve.
Chimamanda Ngozi explained this in her essay, ‘We should all be feminists’. She discusses how girls are raised to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which can actually be a good thing, but for the attention of men.
I mean, why do you think 85% of your Instagram feed are doing squat challenges and suddenly using the gym religiously? In my opinion, social media definitely is a huge influence in the current ‘body goals’ obsession. The idea that we, as women, have to look a certain way to be classed as attractive has existed for centuries. It’s just more obvious than ever now.
So what can we do about it?
In the words of Kevin Hart ‘do you boo boo!’. Stop comparing yourself to others and just embrace who you are. If you need to take a break from social media then go for it. You can deactivate or delete the apps, and spend some time doing things you enjoy that aren’t online. Most importantly, remember, it’s never that deep. 9/10 times the ‘picture perfect’ girls you’re comparing yourself to most definitely didn’t wake up like that.
Do you feel like social media has affected your self esteem? Have you done anything to combat those feelings? Do you think giving up social media is the answer? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Read the full #StatusOfMind Study.