Like it or not, we are living in an era where our lives are playing out through the virtual world of social media. New statistics report we are now ‘checking in’ to platforms like Face Book and Instagram as often as every 6 minutes! A statistic that sends shivers up my spine for many reasons. The constant need to check in on the lives of others – most of whom we would never speak to, let alone actually see in person – is giving way to a new level of anxiety and depression, whilst moving us further and further from mastering the art of being present.
As someone who has researched and specialized in treating neurological conditions like ADHD, depression and anxiety, I believe social media is feeding these tendencies in all of us and exacerbating any predisposition we may have, in addition to other factors like diet, genetics and environmental insults. I’m sure you can all relate to that urge to pick up your phone and scroll through the latest news feed – that probably hasn’t changed in the last 6 minutes since you visited, the moment your minds become idle. The need to turn to our phones and the virtual life social media offers for comfort and connection, is in reality actually disconnecting us and preventing us from immersing ourselves in the real world that surrounds us. The need to constantly fill gaps in our lives with thoughts and things, is a temptation that’s feeding our already over stimulated and over crowded lives.
There’s another ugly side to social media that I fear is feeding an insatiable beast – the ego. Instead of using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share our lives and connect with the people we struggle to make time for, many are using it as a platform for posting endless ‘selfies’ or speaking our minds in ways we would ordinarily refrain from doing to someone’s face. In many ways I view social media platforms as a breeding ground for narcissism, as so many use them as vehicles for showing their virtual friends the latest photo they feel will bring attention and adulation.
The question is, what has gone so wrong in our lives that we feel the need to express ourselves in such self indulgent and narcissistic ways? Since when did posting a photo of a night out with your friends translate to a close up selfie captioned ‘loving my night out with my favorite gal pals’ who are no where to be seen ?
I think the answer lies in the fact that many of us, particularly the younger generations, have lost the ability to love ourselves in ways that don’t require the need for attention from our virtual friends and can no longer find contentment in our immediate environment.
But like everything in life there is an upside to the negativities of social media, in that it can also provide an avenue to access information on mass that would not be so attainable otherwise. Important, educational information that is enabling people to also change their lives for the better, and when used in the right way, knowledge provides us with choice and power. The key to using social media and the internet in general, is balance, as well as being able to decipher and disseminate the mass of information on offer, being careful not to overrun our minds with so much, that we over stimulate our brains leaving it unable to actually process and absorb anything of worth.
Personally, I use social media to post information relating to health and wellbeing, that I feel will benefit others and provide access to knowledge on common health issues and illnesses, that will hopefully provide guidance and assistance to those I cannot see in consultation.
But that’s enough from me, I came across this video , that I strongly recommend you watch. It captures and expresses the issue beautifully, and in the most powerful and effective way.
After you’ve watched it, why not think about taking some time out from your computer and disconnecting from the internet and observe how you feel and what comes up for you. If it’s a sense of angst and disconnection, then that’s a true sign it might be time to reconnect with yourself and others in your real life, not just your virtual one.
For information on how you can reduce the effects of ADHD, anxiety and depression and other neurological conditions through diet and nutrition, check out my e-book Eat Yourself Healthy In 28 Days
© All Rights Reserved Sally Joseph 2014