As a result, more and more teenagers are spending longer online and without parental supervision. But some experts are now saying that social media is toxic. Here are just a few examples of how social media can be bad for your mental health. If you haven’t heard of sadfishing it is the latest toxic trend to hit social media sites. Sadfishing is where someone (typically a young person) posts about a personal problem, usually in an ambiguous way, to garner sympathy and attention. Examples might include: Famous celebrity examples include Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber.
These two celebrities poured their hearts out on social media. Afterwards they received hundreds of thousands of likes on Instagram. More to the point, their personal stories of heartbreak garnered huge publicity for the pair. However, there is a downside to sharing raw and emotional material online. For example, a young person posts a very personal and extremely distressing part of their lives but doesn’t get the support they imagined. Instead, they are ridiculed or bullied. Or even worse, encouraged to do something suicidal. But there’s an even more worrying aspect to this toxic trend in social media. That is of grooming offenders using these comments to infiltrate the minds of vulnerable young people. Consequently, the groomer will sympathise with the young person, possibly sharing stories themselves to engage further. This is all done to trap and ensnare the vulnerable person. Talk to a real person. A friend, family member, a teacher or someone you trust. Keep very personal issues off social media. Another example of a toxic trend in social media is Facebook envy. Do you look at your friend’s posts on Facebook and secretly feel jealous of their life? The problem is that the face we present to social media is the best face possible. We photoshop our selfies to look like supermodels and celebrities. Furthermore, we glamourise our lives so that we only show the most interesting parts. We highlight our best achievements. Romances are always perfect with our partners doing everything for us. No wonder our friends worry that their own lives don’t match up. But in the real world, this constant comparing of each other’s lives can cause actual depression, low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. Don’t compare your life to your friends or your family. Remember, no one knows exactly what is going on behind the perfectly presented front of social media. In actual fact, the reality is likely to be much different. Studies suggest that gangs have moved from the streets to the internet.
The clashes and taunts between rival gangs in the USA and now the UK has spilt over onto Twitter. Now, threats of online violence often end up in murder. In fact, it is the relatively cheap cost of smartphones and the raised knowledge of street gangs in using the technology that has led to an upsurge in crime in some areas. Likewise, thanks to social media, gang members have instant access to information. This includes names and addresses of potential victims. Members use platforms like Twitter to taunt their rivals. “They’ll go on the streets of the group and they’ll take pictures or they’ll take a video and they’ll put it on YouTube or ‘We’re in your neighbourhood.’ And Facebook and they’ll take pictures right in the neighbourhood like saying, ‘Ha ha,’ laughing, taunting them. And that’s part of a taunt too. Like provoking them, letting them know, you know what we got your guy. He was snoozing.” Mario (violence worker) As a result, the US is now experiencing a huge rise in gang-related crime. Authorities are already trying to use social media to de-escalate violence before it starts. In order to interrupt the dialogue between gangs, they are encouraging relationships within them. Do you know someone that is always busy? They have the hardest lives, they are continually on the go, and they never have a moment’s peace? In other words, they wear their hard work like a martyr’s badge of honour. In today’s society, if you work yourself to the bone, it is seen as a prized character trait. Working longer hours, working harder, giving up time to work, these are all signs of dedication, of, well let’s face it, hard work. To put it another way, there is a correlation between hours worked and the contribution to the household. We glorify those that come home exhausted and grumpy. We tiptoe around them and shush the children because so-and-so has been working all day. People that take time off, that only work part-time, they are lazy, irresponsible, and no good for the family or society.
The problem is that by glorifying overworking we are normalising working long hours. In reality, a balance between working and family time is far better for everyone’s mental health. Don’t place so much importance on telling everyone how busy you are. It is not something to be proud of. Actually, it shows that you are bad at time-management and delegation. Many people use the internet to keep in touch with friends and family and for the majority, it is a good place. However, for others – social media is toxic and damaging to their mental health. If we know why it can be toxic we can hopefully protect ourselves and our mental wellbeing. R.
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