How we express ourselves online both reflects and affects who we are. However, it is evident that elements of people pleasing and perfection often come in to play, but how much of this is truly authentic?
Being authentic enables your thoughts and actions to reflect what you truly believe, giving a much greater sense of wellbeing. Psychologists explain that in the process of healing, as the individual becomes more authentic, they become happier and their psychological wellbeing increases.
Acknowledging what is the real you and embracing this can feel uncomfortable. To remove the mask often portrayed through social media can even leave you feeling vulnerable, but what other affects does this have on the wellbeing of ourselves and others?
“Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health” Shirley Crammer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH
The BBC states that around 40% of the world’s population uses social media, with an average usage of two hours daily across various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. With social media playing a significant role in many lives, it’s important that we understand the potential implications on our mental health and wellbeing.
Unfortunately there are limited studies on this matter and those that are available are generally self-reported. However, if you use social media yourself, or have family and friends that do then you may be able to relate to following points;
It’s important to remember not to believe everything you see on social media. Digitally manipulated photos can be created in a matter of seconds through free apps that can change facial features and even body shape. It’s a worrying trend particularly for younger generations growing up with unrealistic perceptions of body image. By creating a false perception, whether it’s in lifestyle, success or physical appearance, it can cause lower self-esteem for those observing, as well as the individual not truly investing in their own authenticity.
Negativity in any situation can be problematic. To build resilience, it is essential that we are able to feel positive and show gratitude. If you’re logging into your social media account to read through negative posts, that don’t make you feel good then make a change to stop this. Unfollowing someone or blocking a contact may seem drastic but if you are serious about improving your wellbeing then you must start making this a priority.
I’ve personally used LinkedIn as a way of connecting with new business contacts and have had a positive response in doing so. However, I believe picking up the phone or meeting in person is key to building strong relationships. It has been reported that social media has changed the way we interact with one another, often for convenience rather than quality and we can develop superficial relationships. By being present on platforms that meet your requirements and remaining clear on why social media is purposeful for you, will help set the boundaries on what you are willing to share, whom with and the type of social interactions you want to develop.
Five Wellbeing Tips for Social Media usage:
- Manage your social media usage: including time and who you follow.
- Chose only platforms that meet your requirements.
- Avoid comparison.
- Remain authentic.
- Be clear on why social media is purposeful for you.