PIIP 1: How Social Media Impacts Your Mental Health

INTRODUCTION

In this PIIP Original, we talk about mental health and how social media can have an impact on our lives. We discuss particularly difficult challenges that we’ve had to face but also some of the ways of managing those challenges.

If you are someone who constantly compares your life to other people, to a point of deep stress and anxiety, you are not alone. With the rise in social media usage over the past 5 years or so, most of us cannot escape this. Everywhere you look there is someone posting pictures of their brand new house, their nice car, new member of the family and so on. Then, the likes and conversations start.

AT WHAT POINT IS IT NOT NORMAL?

You might ask, so what is wrong with that? In most cases, nothing. Only when a person is trying too hard and making it seem like he/she has a great life and are putting on a show, does it become a problem. What happens in all other cases is that we simply don’t understand one simple fact. You get a little glimpse of someone’s life through video or images. If someone just finished a PhD let’s say and posted about it, you didn’t notice the hard work ethic that went into it, you only received the news of the accomplishment. This is extremely important to note because it shows you that most people only post those things they had to work hard to attain and you pretty much never see the entire process of how they got there.

Social Media And Mental Health

COMPARING YOUR LIFE TO OTHERS

Second thing to note is that you should never compare your own life to other people’s anyway. Why? Because as Jordan Peterson would tell you, it is simply not a good idea. In his book 14 Rules For Life: Antidote To Chaos, one of the rules is “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today”. Basically, make sure that you make your life a bit better each and every day. With time you will see that you are making progress in your own life. This way you will find that you are accomplishing more. You will get some satisfaction from it and won’t have to focus on what others have.

One of the biggest issues with internet and social media today and why it can impact our mental health is due to the fact we are constantly interacting with people who are far removed from us. Often enough it’s not someone we really know and it may be a person who lives in a totally different country.

The reason it’s important to mention this is for the fact we aren’t used to dealing and communicating with people this way. In old days before the internet, you lived around other people and any communication was usually done in person. This way you can help each other very easily. It was also much more confined.  You didn’t know so many people from all over the world. Today you are constantly bombarded with information flow from folks who are nowhere near you.  Why do we need to care?

NEED FOR BALANCE

Having a more balanced, organized approach to life and not focusing so much on what others are doing can really help.. If for example you are into checking twitter, facebook and so on, you might find it helpful to use some of those apps that keep you in check when you go overboard. Once you get used to being away from a social media platform and find something more productive to do, it gets easier to stick with the routine. This will bring way less stress to your life.

HOW YOU REACT MATTERS

The other thing we have to keep in mind is that there is a certain level of desentisizing we need when it comes to our life . This includes our reaction to what is posted on social media. If every single comment is triggering you in some way and you need to find a safe space, perhaps it’s time to find something that can help you with this issue. For example, another thing that works quite well for certain mental health issues is behavioural therapy. It allows you to face almost any fear you might have. If you decide to voluntarily face those fears(it won’t work otherwise), you will notice that you no longer feel so sensitive. This doesn’t mean that you are no longer afraid. It means that you now have more courage to face those things you previously couldn’t.

TALK AND FIND HELP

How people deal with social media and mental health issues also differs from each person. We talked about nihilism in one of our other episodes.  Certain figures like Jordan Peterson have helped many folks and some were at a point of no return.  On average women tend to have a approach where letting things out and talking about issues can help them. With men it’s a bit different as they keep it bottled up inside. They are very much afraid that others might figure out their issues. For many men talking about it makes it worse especially if they cannot figure out the solution. With women, they generally feel better by conversation alone.

At the end we talk about the fact some things in life come to you, even if you never asked for them. By this, we’re talking about politics and how it can also impact your life. You become involved and start having political discussions online with random strangers and this begins to impact your mental health as well. This is also a very slippery slope as it can lead to things like populism or even more extreme form of tribalism. Getting that balance back can be extremely difficult. This is especially true if you lose your ability to think as an individual.

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