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.
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.
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.