Social media mania


Autumn Towe

We blame social media for the increase in mental illness but is it the media itself or our relationship with it?

Autumn Towe, Staff Writer

In recent years, the number of people with a form of mental illness has been increasing dramatically. With this, more and more have wanted to keep their mental state healthy and stay conscious of any bad habits. Many times, this increase in depression and anxiety has been closely connected and related to the use of social media. These platforms are breeding grounds for making comparisons, feeling down about the material possessions and life you don’t have, as well as online bullying. Teens have said that Instagram, specifically, is the worst thing for their mental health. 

These recent developments made me question the validity of social media’s effect on mental illness  when a certain article was brought to my attention from the New York Times titled “The Empty Religions of Instagram.” It was talking about how social media influencers are becoming this generation’s televangelists. When I first read this, the plethora of influencers and apps that focus on mental health and living, in general, came to my mind. I began thinking about how there are many apps and accounts that are advertising a way of life, what to believe and so on. This way of life is like a religion to many; my own grandpa has begun using them too. 

Why, when we know the connection between social media and screen time with mental health, are we allowing the thing that destroys us, to tell us how to get better? That seems like a recipe for disaster. These influencers and apps tell us to do self-care, take a break from the world, but by doing so, continue to draw us back into the trap that is requiring us to do self-care. They tell us it is “ok to not be ok,” just so that when we are not ok, because of social media, we go back to it to hear them say, it’s ok to not be okay, further drawing us in. I am not saying that all these people are purposefully out to get us, or that this is their purpose, to deceive and inflict pain. They are often good people trying to share how they have become more mentally stable. The thing is, there is not a recipe. They are telling you this over a screen. The minute they get off their phone, who knows how they are actually doing? However, does it matter where the help is coming from? I know many people that have made good habits using these apps and accounts to just be more aware of their mental habits and learn how to slow down and enjoy life. 

So then, I came to the realization. Social media and apps on your phone can have major, negative consequences. Overuse and incorrect use can lead to problems that can be difficult to return from. In moderation, these platforms can have positive effects. They can inspire us, keep us connected with friends and family and keep us educated. It is not the media itself that is giving us these issues, but our relationship we create with them. This is an inanimate object we are letting control us. We have the power to act, to be the one in control. If our use is giving us feelings of jealousy, anger or sadness, we must reevaluate its purpose in our lives. We do not have to let these things control us, we can use them for our good and for the good of others. 

There is nothing wrong with removing yourself from the many times fake worlds of social media. I’ve never met anyone who has regretted leaving the world of counting likes and views on social media and entering a world where they can discover their own likes and views without the persistent pressure the media inflicts. In moderation, these platforms can be tools for us to learn from each other to better face the hardships of this world, but there is nothing wrong with setting yourself free from the burden social media can inflict. Who knows, maybe separation from it is the very thing you need to find true peace.