YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram – nowadays, we cannot avoid these mediums when talking about our youth’s mental health.
Instagram is the worst social media site in terms of its impact on the mental health of young people, a report has suggested. The #StatusofMind survey found the photo-sharing app negatively impacted on people’s body image, sleep and fear of missing out. (Telegraph)
Of course, a curated page of photos showing off what you did and are doing. From an outsider’s perspective, whose experiences may not be as varied and interesting, whose art may not be as “beautiful” (I use quotation marks because art is very subjective), whose social circle may not be as big and interesting as they want it to be, their life could suck.
Snapchat and Instagram, Why?
I don’t blame the platforms. They are businesses, and as we move toward the mediums of photos and videos – things that take less time to digest – it’s no wonder Instagram is one of the fastest growing platforms out there among youth’s. These platforms just fit the ideal youth consumer for product placements, ads and opportunities for revenue.
The answer, I believe, is choice. The ability to curate is the “root” (quotation marks again because it can depend on how you use it) of all evil.
As a photographer, I know the power of editing and making media look as good as possible. I know that Snapchat and Instagram, among other social media, can be particularly effective when it comes to spreading a message.
But, Snapchat, Instagram, many forms of social media are simply the best moments in our lives. Nobody wants to share sad or negative moments because as humans, we are turned off by such moments. And in a world where likes and view can mean self validation and a positive self image, how can we share such negative anecdotes?
The answer is, we can’t. I mean, objectively we could, but it wouldn’t be very well received, would it? Thus furthering the whole digging-a-deeper-hole ideology.
We Have Become Curators
In museums, curators are those who look for and bring together pieces of art to exhibit. Now, with social media, we have become curators at our own levels. We pick and choose the best moments of our lives to post and show our friends, or the rest of the world.
And that’s that, social media is just a compilation of our best moments. Unless it is a special use case, a negative-toned post would most probably do worse than a positive one.
In a world where our self image can be built by how many likes and views our creations gets viewed, it can become increasingly dangerous as the lack of said views or likes can be amplified greatly through a deteriorated mental health.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) report said: “The platforms that are supposed to help young people connect with each other may actually be fuelling a mental health crisis.” (Telegraph)
So, We Just Stop?
Of course not! If one isn’t on social media, it would make it even harder to connect with other youths of their age bracket.
Not everything that can be dangerous should be eliminated – if those who fought in the name of ISIS, instead protested on the streets, it would be much easier for us to dismiss them like how I could confidently dismiss flat-earthers or those who deny global warming.
But with such topics, where the polarity can be at extreme levels, we should approach with caution. Whatever we see on social media is never the full story. Everyone could have an underlying issue, big or small. It’s simply not popular (or in some terms, acceptable) to be sharing anything and everything. Plus, I wouldn’t want my life to be a transcript online.
When it comes to education, we typically speak about bullying (be it physical, verbal, psychological, etc.) But maybe we should start exploring how even passive actions – someone else posting something on their social media – can affect our perception. Reality is nothing but our own perception of it – that’s how opposing views are formed.
Social media can do great things – spread amazing causes, display beautiful art or be a great form of expression. But I think we need to insert some form of concious consumption in today’s ever changing, secretive, deceptive and “online”.