The Social Media effect

Social Media – Love it

 

It is very difficult to avoid social media these days.

I am pretty much always in the love category. I like to keep up with what my family and friends are doing. It is a great tool for blogging as well and I want to be able to share elements of my life with those I am friends with.

 

Or loathe it

But there are times where I loathe it. For example, the times where it can make you feel a little bit crap about your own life, even though you’re life is pretty damn perfect.

Scrolling through looking at all the exciting things that your friends are doing, or all the expensive items they are buying or the wonderful worldwide holidays they are going on, it can make your life suddenly seem all the less exciting.

Or when you see some truly shocking articles or video’s that people share. Sometimes they share through passion and others through their own naivety. These shocking news stories or fake news can be quite distressing and not how I want to spend my scroll time. Then some of the time they are just plain stupid!

 

Don’t feed the troll.

 

Then you have the lowest form of internet user… The Troll. Now I am thankful to say it has been a few years since I was used as Troll entertainment, but I can still remember how those horrible comments made me feel.

Facebook is a place of comfort for me, I have my security settings high and if I wouldn’t speak to you in the street, I would not add you or accept you as a friend on Facebook. This does offer a level of protection from trolls.

I have had the odd comment in groups I am part of that make me wonder why I bother, but only ever momentarily.

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Troll hiding places

 

Facebook users (certainly in my circles) are savvy enough now to have their security settings high enough to avoid the Troll. This doesn’t mean they become a thing of the past.

Oh no, it simply means they move to other platforms. A faster moving and more anonymous place, like Twitter or Instagram for example.

These sites on the whole are pretty ‘out there’ for all to see. These sites offer a snapshot of what is on our mind or our outfit of the day, our breakfast, our home interior, our latest selfie, A place where we can open ourselves up, share what’s makes us who we are and show others all that we love.

For that reason it becomes the perfect place for a troll to surface. In life, we are not all going to like the same things, have the same sense of style as others and we certainly won’t always have the same opinion as others.

Whilst most of us are adult enough to accept that and carry on with our day, others find this a wonderful excuse to be unkind.

 

 

Celebrity or anybody?

 

Now unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you will no doubt of heard a lot in the media about the abuse celebrities are facing on social media.

These people are strangers to most of us, a person we see on TV or hear on the radio. But with social media, suddenly they become less of a stranger, more in reach and less untouchable.

People look up to celebrity and influencers, hang on their every word at times, and watch their youtube videos,  view the insta stories, like every picture and tweet and eagerly anticipate the next snapshot of their fav celeb’s life.

I am sure for the famous it can be a great way to interact with their fans in a way that those who’ve come before them would never have been able to do.

But celebrity has a dark side. Once your life is there for all to see, it is open to criticism, ridicule and total troll invasion.

All you have to do is scroll through instagram in particular and there is always some celeb picture that is full of negativity. Cruel comments about the way they look, rubbishing their talent and generally just taking delight in ripping people apart.

I would like to think it is because people are so naive to the effect their words have, but it is so well publicised the level of online bullying celebrities in particular are subjected too, that these people must be stupid not to be completely aware of what they are doing.

If you have watched the Jesy Nelson BBC documentary ‘Odd one Out’, you will undoubtedly feel so much symapthy for her. From the minute she was discovered on the X Factor as part of Little Mix, people have made her life a living hell. To the point where she tried to take her own life. Her confidence is damaged almost beyond repair.

And as I type this, I have just had a ‘gram break and watched a heartbreaking story from the Lovely Mrs Hinch. Some low life has sent her some horrible messages about her son, a baby, just a few months old! OK so her son will never see these messages, but his Mum did. She had to read someone writing something so horrible about the most important part of her life.

Maybe I was stupid to think that no one would be so nasty about a baby. Who does that? I don’t know what I have done so wrong to get stuff like that. I clean. My house, no one else’s. I earn some money from my Instagram, I buy cleaning products and I clean. I’m not hurting anyone. No one deserves that, its just an innocent little baby, my little boy. I don’t know how people like that sleep.’

– Mrs Hinch

Of course she is right. None of us would ever expect such cruelty and unkindness. We don’t experience this day to day in our lives.

In fact I can only think of one person I have encountered on a regular basis who made me feel so uncomfortable with her unpleasantness. Not that this was ever directed at me, or in fact anyone but she was confrontational for the sake of it. It put a lot of people around her on edge and bought with it a general feeling of unease. At 36 years old though, to only have encountered someone troll like in real life, I have either been very lucky or people, in general do not behave in this manner in public.

 

But what about the rest of us?

Are any of us immune to these people who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than to follow people just to be cruel?

In my short time in the blogging community, I have seen numerous people struggling with this exact thing. And it goes much deeper than people just having a differing opinion of the things they read online.

It seems to me that the pleasure gained by these people far exceeds a normal level. I wonder often if it comes from a deeply unhappy place that these people are in themselves or if it is just a case that being anonymous means that they can pretend to be any persona they chose to online.

Would any of them behave the way they do online in person? Or are they the sort of people who everyone gets on with and has a good friendship circle or are they really quiet and isolated or are they just a bully through and through?

Will we ever understand what makes them tick?

 

The true effect

 

I don’t want to claim to be an expert in mental health in any way, this is purely based on my own opinion and experiences.

We have all heard the horrible stories about young people who have killed themselves, or tried to kill themselves following the abuse they have received online. It is utterly heartbreaking that children are pushed to these extremes just to get away from the horror that is there online life.

Sadly children will always be prone to bullying, particularly in school. Now with social media being so prevalent in their lives though, it brings the bullying in to their home, no escape from the issues that happen in school. It can be relentless. Previously that issue, although would remain on their mind they could at least get some respite from it.

There are so many adults who have issues with their mental health because of the things that have been said to them online. Words hurt, they make us second guess ourselves and question our confidence and even our place in society.

It can effect every aspect of our life, a dark cloud that hangs over us and taints all our relationships.

I am not sure if we will ever be able to quantify the true effect social media is having on society as a whole.

It would be far too easy to say ignore, delete the apps and stay away from social media but it is too big a part of all our lives now.

 

Can the internet ever change?

 

I often speak to my son about the perils of the online world and it is because as a parent, I would be horrified if I ever found out he had said something to someone online that made them feel bad about themselves.

I worry about him being at the rough end of internet bullying/trolling more than I do that he will be the instigator though. I wish I could protect him from it but sadly it is very hard to be on it all the time without intruding on his privacy.

He has just read this post and this is what he has to say on the matter.

It is like cheating in a game of football. It just shows that your actually not good enough to play without cheating. If you can’t use the internet without being unkind, you should not use it. People like that need to get a life!

– F – 11 and 3/4

As for my step daughters, I think I worry more about them. I know what life is like as a teenage girl. I know the pressure you feel to be the same as your peers, have certain things and look a certain way. With social media being a huge pressure in their already difficult years, I worry it is too much too young.

But I am under no illusion that this is a subject that only girls are open to.

We really need to be teaching our children that being kind to people really is the best way to deal with most things in life.

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We need to teach this generation that the internet is special, that it has a huge amount to offer but that there is a life outside of their phone. A life full of people that love them and will constantly build them up and not knock them down, maybe we could go some way in stopping this fairly new phenomenon.

 

Reality vs online

 

And this is where this post could be a little controversial…

I wonder if this is where age plays a big part in our relationship with social media.

I feel that at the age I am now, I’ve spent enough of my life without the internet. This means to me that it is almost a luxury item. Not something that I take for granted. I respect it. I have spent many years learning how to be a polite, respectful member of society and I believe these skills follow me in to my social media life.

Maybe it’s this lack of life experience that adds to the issue of online bullying. Perhaps our social skills need to develop to a certain level where we are able to manage this freedom and responsibility correctly.

Or have we grown up in a world where the media has played such a role in our lives that we took the behaviour of the red top papers as the norm. Building people up to God-like status in order to knock them down. And now these rags are not as prevalent, are we taking it upon ourselves to replace them?

As the internet and certainly social media are in their infancy still, could it be that it will take time for common decency to filter through to the online world. Once it becomes more of a reality will our online behaviour mirror our real life behaviour?

Has the internet just enabled some people to be the worst version of themselves while hiding behind a screen.

 

How can we make a change?

 

  • As difficult as it can be, a break from all forms of social media can be so beneficial to our well-being

 

  • We can talk to our friends about how social media effects us. Just from talking about this post with some friends, it is very clear that this issue is huge for many people. For example 3 of us in my office today and all 3 of us have some negative feelings towards social media and how it impacts on us mentally and emotionally.

 

  • We can teach our children about how we should behave on social media towards others and that what we post on our own profile will be how people see us.

 

  • We must report all abuse when we see it, regardless of what platform it is and who it is aimed at. We are well aware these sites are not taking the online threat seriously enough so we must make a stand. Show these bullys and social media bods that we are not willing to accept this behaviour.

 

  • Block people, this function is available and I believe massively under used.

 

  • Be cautious about who we give our contact details to, who we accept on our social media and who we allow access to our content.

 

  • Update privacy settings to keep your accounts as secure as you’d like them to be

 

  • Encourage your children to be open about anything that makes them uncomfortable online

 

  • If you ever feel tempted to say something that is not kind to another, imagine you’re saying that to someone you love, Your Parents/Partner/Children, Would you still say it?

 

  • Never join in, you can’t beat a bully by joining them

 

  • Remember that comparing your life to someone else is so damaging. We are only ever seeing the surface of someone’s life via the internet. And while you sit comparing your life to someone who seems to be luckier/prettier/richer than you they could well be sitting at home watching your account wishing they had the life you did

 

  • And for goodness sake… Be kind to each other! You never know what someone else is going through.

 

Have you experienced the darker side of the internet? How has it impacted on your mental health and well-being?

Do you worry about your children and what their own experiences online will be like?

I’d love to hear from people on this subject. This subject is so far removed from my normal posts but it is something I feel extremely passionate about. I am constantly ranting to Rob about it and he told me to put it down, write about it and maybe it’ll help someone else be able to find strength to admit that they don’t currently enjoy social media, that actually life is pretty hard for them right now and maybe get some help.

 

 

67 thoughts on “The Social Media effect

  1. Such a good post, I love Social Media…to a point. I occasionally take a hiatus which I struggle with for the first few days then I enjoy the freedom it offers. Great read.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There is so much to think about on this topic. I love how well you’ve explored it – and isn’t your son a wise little owl too! You may have a point that the generations who have grown up with all this social media may be less socially adept, if we’re not careful. It’s a scary thought. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I definitely agree with the point about not feeding the troll… it’s so easy to give in to the temptation to fire back at them, but that’s the worst thing you can do! I hate some social media users, but I don’t hate social media as a platform. I think used correctly and wisely, it can really enhance our lives.

    Oliver x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I try to take mental health / social media breaks as often as I can, but it can be difficult to break away. Especially if you use it mostly for blogging or supporting your blog. But it can be such a toxic place full of, like you say, trolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this topic! I’m always ranting to my friends about how obsessed people can be with social media, specifically those a little younger than me (so 18 and below).

    I love using it to interact with other bloggers and share posts from my blog, but as for personal use that is limited if non-existent!

    As for trolls and online bullying, I’m so thankful to haven’t had to experience it to the hurtful extent some l do, but I find that on social media people have a hard time accepting people’s opinions that aren’t their own.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, it allows us to connect with others regardless of the distance that may celebrate us. However, it can create unrealistic expectations and introduce unnecessary drama into our lives!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Claire! It might not be your usually post but I’d love to see more of these think pieces from you – you’re good at them! The Jessy documentary was shocking, I think it really opened people’s eyes about social media. Ultimately, it’s your choice to be ON social media. But it’s also your choice how to moderate your own useage. The block and mute buttons are there for a reason. You have to be vigilant and report anything you’re not happy with and know when to take a break. At the end of the day, nobody is forcing you to be on social media. And it’s a great place to be, 99% of the time. You just need to recognise that 1% and act accordingly. Plus, your son is WISE x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s wiser than I am that’s for sure! And he blocks EVERYONE! I think I should be grateful he hasn’t yet blocked my number!

      Thank you So much for your kind words. Blogging is sometimes about pushing ourselves from our comfort zone I guess. Probably take me a year to come up with another 😂😂 x x

      Like

  7. That was a long read.

    I very much have a love/hate relationship with social media. As a parent, I worry – especially as I have a teenage daughter.

    But at the same time its how I earn a living

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post and very interesting topic! I still have more of a love relationship so far with social media, but I’ve been lucky and never had to deal with any hate or trolls first hand, then again I’m only just starting to put myself out there with blogging etc so maybe it’s all to come…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have two little boys, the eldest of whom has just started school and I really worry about the impact social media may come to have on their lives, particularly in respect to bullying. At 34, I was lucky enough to be able to do most of my embarrassing growing up without it. But at least I’m equipped with the knowledge to tackle it that my parents wouldn’t have been. It helps that my husband is a techy – if in doubt, lock it down!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with social media.. I recently took a break from instagram as I was getting so frustrated with it but at the end of the day I use it to document my life and my kids so I gave up on algorithms and likes etc xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The trolls… you just can’t escape them. There are everywhere. I once heard that the best way to deal with it internally (in other words don’t let their words get to you) is to know that “hurt people – hurt people”. In other words, they are dealing with a lot of pain and they take it out on others. Thinking in those terms always helps me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ugh trolls are THE WORST! It’s so sad to see how nasty people can be, especially knowing most of these people would NEVER say it to someone’s face. Just because you don’t know them or see them when you say it, doesn’t make it any less hurtful.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post.
    My oldest is just around the age where she’s beginning to ask about social media accounts, and i know a bunch of her friends have already joined. And I’m so nervous about letting her on there, and I really hope I’ve taught her enough to navigate the minefield that can be social media.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The sad thing about trolls is that even if there wasn’t social media for them to use as their platform they’d still find a way. I’m very protective with my children and can only hope I have taught them well enough and keep pointing them in the right direction (and maybe stalk their accounts to be on the safe side).
    On a whole though I think I’ve had a positive experience with loving social media xx
    Great blog lovely.
    Laura x

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I often say if I wasn’t in the job I’m in, I would leave social media and feel far better for it. I find it a very negative place to be at the moment but perhaps I need to work out why and address that.

    Like

  16. The power of the keyboard is amazing! It is ridiculous what people will say via social media platforms and not to your face. It is a horrible thing.
    The Jessie Nelson Documentary should be shown in schools to show the truth behind it all.
    Great post x

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this one, so many days I can be feeling great and just feel sad because I’m not as good as what I see on social media, but really its all a lie:/ Have also followed you too, great content! xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Such a thought provoking post! I often worry about my younger brother and social media. It feels like such a different change to just 15 years ago when I was his age and the things kids post and say on social media can be horrible. It’s not just kids though and it happens all too often unfortunately

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post on a very important subject. I’m the same age as you and I also see the Internet as a luxury and not something to take for granted. Im glad that I went through school without the Internet, social media and smart phones. We had it easy compared to kids nowadays,and although my son is only 1, I do worry about what things will be like for him growing up.

    I have a love hate relationship with social media. I use twitter for my blog and Facebook for keeping in touch with family, but it’s constantly at the back of my mind that there are some pretty nasty people out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a scary prospect really when you think where we could be in another 20 years.

      Like you, I’m so glad that social media was not a part of my youth, I’d like to keep it that way for my son as long as possible.

      Thank you for reading x

      Like

  20. Before starting my blog I haven’t been active in social media. It wasn’t a good place for me in my early years of college. I came from a strict Catholic School that didn’t allow us to use cellphones so social media wasn’t my thing. I was an adjustment when teachers used it as a modem of teaching and groupchats weren’t my thing. It’s still awkward for me to post online because it’s not in my nature

    Liked by 1 person

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