Netflix has created a documentary called The Social Dilemma.
In this article I am going to write about my views on this in relation to mental health.
Overview of Social Dilemma.
If you haven’t seen it, this is worth checking out.
In summary, everything we do online is tracked and information is pushed towards us in line with what we have historically done online, such as what posts we view, who we message, through online alerts and notifications. This keeps us online seeing more. As we keep seeing more of the same things that interest us, we keep wanting more of it. Hence we become addicted to social media, such as scrolling and messaging on Facebook for hours when we only wanted to check one notification which was sent to us to grab our attention and keep us hooked on it.
Also, notifications can be sent in subtle ways to persuade one's opinions on certain topics such as politics. There is so much information online, we don’t know what is real or made up. Yes, some information can be made up, resulting in the spread of so-called conspiracy theories on why things have happened and the like. With the internet this can spread quickly, which results in it getting mixed up with the truth.
Link to Mental Health
The link to our mental health is we constantly end up filling our minds with this information on social media, wanting to review more of the items online, some which may not serve us and can cause our self esteem to go down. Also we end up having an unhealthy addiction of just scrolling through social media posts and having thoughts put into our minds, unless we become aware and decide what we want in our minds. Ultimately, social media controls us, when we should be using social media as a tool that we can use to better our lives connecting with others.
Instead on social media sites such as Facebook, when reviewing posts of others, we can end up comparing ourselves to be just like others or wanting to have more likes or positive comments, which gives us a boost to our self esteem. But, when no likes or positive comments are received this can have the opposite effect, decreasing our self esteem. Young children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to this. As they are growing up, their minds are developing and they are getting to understand and handle their own emotions. If from a young age, your self worth is dependent on how many likes or positive comments one has on Facebook, this is a serious mental health issue, as your state of mind will always be dependent on what others think, and never what you think or want for yourself. Having this pattern repeat itself through more of the same notifications sent through Facebook, ingrains the pattern and this becomes the norm which becomes hard to break free. It is of little wonder then, we are in a world where so many young people have a low self esteem and self worth.
What Can Be Done About This?
Firstly, we need to be aware and accept this is what is happening on social media platforms. We need to become aware and understand why we are viewing information online. It’s ok if we are reviewing to keep up to date with something relevant for us, or keeping in touch with someone. Once we start having other thoughts, wishing we were more like the others, comparing our lives to them, we need to break away from social media. Comparing ourselves to others doesn’t help, but can decrease our self worth, especially if others appear to be doing a lot better online than we are.
We also need to be aware of how long we actually spend online. A few minutes, catching up on social media news, a friends profile to catch up on their lives and message them is fine, but scrolling on someone’s profile for hours on end can become borderline stalking behaviour, as one can become obsessed with another’s online life rather than focusing on themselves.
Once we are aware of our behaviour, we can change it. Limit how much time we spend on social media, and monitor what it is we are viewing, was this what we wanted to view, or did the social media website send us notifications to draw us into viewing more. As long as our thoughts aren’t negative or persuading us to do things we in our own minds didn’t intend on doing in the first place, then all is good. The only way we would know this is if we become aware and think is this what I want to believe and do.