In light of the recent spotlight that has been put on Facebook, and other social networks, one campaign is prompting a question about the way we use social media.
“Social Media is just a pressure cooker of people posting a sanitised version of their life. Every now and again the lid blows and a true picture can leak out but this is neither the norm nor what society accepts” Andy Barr, a social media expert and founder of the digital agency 10yetis.co.uk tells me.
As if men didn’t have to deal with enough pressures in social situations as it is, the introduction of social networking in the past decade has introduced a new complication. Not only do men have to worry about their face-to-face interactions, they now need to consider how they appear online.
Is what we post online real?
We’ve all been guilty of it. A holiday snap, a picture of your food or a picture of you and friends having a laugh. It’s not quite an accurate reflection of your situation, but it makes it seem as though you’re living the perfect life. On social media, at least.
“Everyone looks like they’re having the best day ever, all the time.”
Sasha, 16, told the Child Mind Institute.
We are so reluctant to post our struggles on social media. In a society that has developed a drive for likes, comments and shares, we’re aware that so-called negative posts won’t achieve the engagement we crave.
The result is a culture of fake posts. Fake profiles. Fake news.
Ever felt the pressure of social media?
“You’re not alone,” says lifefaker.com, a new campaign which highlights the pressure that society faces online.
They highlight that 62% of people feel inadequate comparing their lives to others online.
The website offers visitors the chance to buy beautiful social media pictures to post to their own profiles. There are packages for faking the perfect holiday – the ‘look at my perfect holiday and cry’ package – the perfect relationship, and much more.
Of course, once you click to purchase a package, it takes you to the campaign page which highlights the impact social media can have on mental health.
“Our goal was to use parody to highlight some of those unhealthy behaviours we all know exist on social media” says James Routledge, the founder of Sanctus, the mental health organisation behind the campaign.
While Lifehacker pokes fun at society’s social media obsession, it’s message is real and highlights the strong link between social media and mental health.
“Lifefaker.com calls bullshit on people’s approach to using social media and I think it is probably the stand out mental health campaign so far of 2018” – Andy Barr, 10 Yetis.
Is there a different way of thinking?
With 66% of people in the UK now using social media, we spend a lot of time absorbing content from both people we know and people we admire. For men, images of six-pack abs, beautiful women, exciting cars and expensive clothes. It’s enough to challenge our own perceptions of our lives.
But is there a different way of thinking? Is there a way of using social media that could in fact benefit our mental health?
“People suffering with mental health issues can benefit hugely from social media, especially now the stigma of suffering with these issues is now less severe” Andy Barr says. “Asking for help on social platforms is not just acceptable but also an essential way of finding the support that you may need. Social media can be a real power for good, it’s not just about trolls and bullying.”
By returning to its roots as a means of creating communities and connecting people, social media can benefit our mental health. If you’re feeling lonely, social media offers a means to connect with those who you value with ease. It offers you the opportunity to connect with new people with whom you share an interest or passion.
Most of all, it offers a means to seek help and support when it is needed most.