SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME there has been many epidemics from Small Pox, Polio and The Black Death. Luckily they have all been somewhat eliminated by vaccinations and with the help of doctors. However, we are facing an outbreak of a modern-day epidemic with Anxiety, Depression, Paranoia and sleep deprivation. But unlike Small Pox, this isn't caused by a virus but by the most silent killer of all - Social Media.
The definition of Social Media is "websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking". The UK Royal Society for Public Health has found that more and more 19-24-year olds using social media have began suffering from Anxiety, Depression and poor sleep. Anxiety is "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome." So why is something that on the outside seems great for sharing content and keeping in touch making us feel so anxious?
We all use social media, we are all guilty of spending hours scrolling through Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook or searching Google and YouTube and excuse the French but it is turning us all into fucking idiots. When brainstorming my angle for this article and telling my classmates and tutor, my tutor turned to me and said "yeah mental health and social media would be a good one because you guys are the Snowflake Generation".
Now I thought to myself, you can't paint everyone with the same brush, but my God this definition of the Snowflake Generation literally does paint everyone I know with the same brush. In short terms the Snowflake Generation is a term that describes young adults of the 2010's as being too emotionally vulnerable and not being able to cope as we take offence way too easily, unlike other generations. It took me awhile to realise and accept the fact that I am over-emotional, I struggle to cope with criticism and I somewhat can't cope with life on my own. Trust me that took a lot of courage to admit, but it is shockingly true. Social media feeds anxiety through feelings of disconnection and loneliness. And to be honest, I understand why. Likes have become more valuable than happiness, Snapchat streaks determine how 'strong' your friendship is, the amount of friends that you have on Facebook (even though you won't know most of them...) determines how popular you are and if you haven't updated your profile picture since 2016 you are labeled as a creep.
We live in a world where Mental Health is being glamorised on Twitter with people posting "We need a Disney Princess who commits suicide." SORRY WHAT PLANET ARE YOU LIVING ON WHERE YOU WANT CHILDREN TO WATCH A PRINCESS TAKE HER OWN LIFE! It has almost become popular to feel no self-worth or to tweet about your anxiety, there is even a trending hashtag that people use called #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike. When starting College, I became friends with a girl who was 20 years' old who didn’t own a smartphone, it came to a massive shock to everyone. The questions smothered her "how do you know where your friends are?" "how do you know when the bus is?" "how do you live?". But she was the most connected person I have ever met, she lived in the moment and instead of scrolling through pointless apps at lunch she actually sat down and talked to us!
Everyone tells each other "you can't love someone else, without loving yourself first". For our generation that is the biggest load of bullshit we could possibly hear, we don’t even know what self-love is. Sure, how can we? When all we do is constantly compare ourselves to each other, a quick selfie (which has taken ages to become perfect, adjusting the saturation, blemishing your spot on your chin and whitening your teeth) before you head out for the night with a gang of your friends has made someone who is sitting in on a Friday night with their hair up in a bun eating a tub of ice-cream feel like a lonely ugly little slob. Then the panic settles in if you go out and don’t have WIFI or 4G because how are you supposed to prove to all your 108 contacts on Snapchat that you have the best friends, the best life and no worries at all. It's an exhausting and vicious cycle being crippled with anxiety but putting on a front to the online world. When are people going to realise that online is actually not real life? Shocking I know.
So, I took to my Snapchat account in which I have 108 contacts but I know about 60 of them and sent out a video asking them "has social media affected your mental health and if so can you reply to me to inform me please" and I received horrific response. The following quotes are all from people who have active Social Media accounts and on a daily basis look like they're enjoying life to the full.
"Social Media violates privacy, my ex-boyfriend stalks me and wants me dead. He makes fake accounts so he can follow me, then when he does he makes a fake account of my page and then sells stuff to other people pretending to be me. I don’t feel safe at all, I am afraid to get involved with another boy in case he sees me and comes for me. I constantly get e-mails from him calling me a whore. It has made me so anxious and afraid". "I feel like when I don’t get enough likes on my Instagram photo I feel like I have no friends. It is weird I know". "Social Media destroys relationships and can make you extremely paranoid". "I feel like I have to post regular pictures on my Instagram to show that I am having a good time or that I'm loving life!". So, if everyone feels the same way why is everyone continuing to do it, we are only hurting each other at the end of the day.
Like I said there has been many epidemics that have been helped due to vaccinations, people have recovered and gotten better. I wonder if we ever will or if we will continue to be the Snowflake generation forever.