World Mental Health Day is tomorrow: In anticipation TheBoldAge asks Is social media a positive influence?

How many of us Boldies silently ask ourselves whether social media is really a good thing or not?

Published by Steve Foreman on Oct 09, 2020

Social media isn’t just for the young trendy folks. According to Ofcom, 64% of all adults aged 45-54 and 51% aged 55-64 now use social media and the biggest change can be seen in people aged 65-plus, where usage has increased to 35%, from just 2% in 2010. The average Britain checks their phone approximately 28 times per day!

As with most things, social media has its positives but also several, potentially serious negatives. Firstly, let’s look at the positives. It’s great at helping us to stay in touch with friends and family, during the Coronavirus pandemic this has been invaluable to many people. It’s a great way to stay up to date with what’s happening with children and grandchildren.

Facebook is now more popular with older people than it is with teenagers and young adults. As well as keeping up to date, it can also be a great way of looking back at past memories and special events.

Social media is great for creating online communities, where like-minded individuals can meet up and chat online. There are friendship groups, singles groups, religious groups and groups for nearly every hobby you can imagine. These are great forums for discussing and sharing information, they can also help combat people’s feelings of loneliness.

The negatives? Firstly, not everything is as it seems. Many images have been photoshopped, filtered or edited to create the perfect pose or picture. This can set unrealistic ideals for people; they will never achieve the look or lifestyle they see on social media because it is often fake and not a realistic picture of real life. Facebook or Instagram envy is a real thing!

You can also become disconnected from people. Constantly looking at social media stops you physically interacting with people and living in the now.

People can also become so obsessed with taking the perfect picture that they are not enjoying the moment. That amazing view, the family get together, special events, they need to be enjoyed for what they are. I have attended music concerts where people are too busy trying to capture the event on their phone, rather than enjoying the event. The priority is not to capture the special moment for it to be shared on social media, but to enjoy the here and now, live in the moment.

Social media can also be a distraction. How often have we seen people on their phone at mealtimes, during meetings, at the gym, at the coffee shop, in bed, the list goes on. Social media should not be ruling people’s lives. The average person spends up to 2 hours 24 minutes per day on social media in 2020, that’s a huge chunk of the day that is lost.

It is World Mental Health Day on October 10th. Why not turn off your phone, disconnect from social media for the day and interact with the world around you. Speak to your neighbours, friends, family, go for walk and appreciate nature or the architecture of your city. Live in the here and now and don’t compare your life to that of others that you see online, it’s probably not a reflection of their true reality.