Our dependency on social media has increased multifold, especially post the coronavirus-led lockdown. We all know the benefits as well as the several drawbacks of social media, including how it impacts one’s health. So, how do you find social media wellness? That is the question digital marketer and businesswoman Bailey Parnell answers in her TED Talk.
Bailey commences her talk by explaining how social media can be the hub of negativity and insecurity. Excess social media use has been linked with high levels of anxiety and depression, many studies have found. Parnell explains, “Let me introduce you to four of the most common stressors on social media, that if go unchecked have potential to become full-blown mental health issues. Number one: the Highlight Reel…We struggle with insecurity because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels. When your highlights do well, you encounter the second stressor on social media. Which is number two: Social Currency,” she explains, with respect to the system of likes, shares and comments. Number three, she reveals, is F.O.M.O or the ‘fear of missing out’, which “is an actual social anxiety from the fear that you are missing a potential connection, event, or opportunity.” And last, and perhaps the worst stressor on social media is online harassment.
She says, “Social media is neither good nor bad. It’s just the most recent tool we use to do what we have always done: tell stories and communicate with each other…When we talk about this dark side of social media, what we really talk about is the dark side of people.”
Parnell advocates practising what she calls “safe social”. She explains, “Recognising a problem is the first step to fixing it…You know the power of suggestion when someone tells you about something and you start seeing it everywhere. That’s why awareness is critical.” She adds, “The second thing you are going to do is audit your social media diet. The same way we monitor what goes into our mouth, monitor whatever goes into your head and heart.” Next is step three, which is, “create a better online experience.” And finally, what you need to do is “model good behaviour.”
In conclusion, she says, “Is social media hurting your mental health? The answer is: it doesn’t have to. Social media can tear you down, yes, or it can lift you up, where you leave feeling better off, or have an actual laugh-out-loud.”