Tag Archives: Social Media

What I Learned From A One Year Facebook Detox

In recent months I have seen so many articles posted online about ‘facebook depression’ and the negative effects social media can have on our mental health. I have spoken to many different people who agree that social media plays a huge role in how they feel on a day to day basis.

As an active blogger, social media is a huge part of my everyday life and I use it to share my content with my followers and connect with the world around me. As much as I love social media and all of the wonderful opportunities it has given me over the years, sometimes I just have to step away from it for a bit and take a breather.

I really do believe that social media can be detrimental to our mental health but I think it’s how we choose to use it that affects us the most. I suffer with anxiety and I found that how I use social media can have a profound effect on anxiety on any given day.

Over the past few years I have done some experimenting with this theory. I deleted my personal Facebook page for the better part of a year about two years ago and quite honestly, it really helped with my anxiety. The reason I deleted my Facebook in the first place was down to a conversation I had with a friend of mine who swore that deleting her own account made her feel emotionally and mentally healthier. I decided to give it a go and see how things went.

If I am being honest, I seriously didn’t think I’d last a week but a week turned into two weeks and before I knew it I was Facebook free for over a year. Which is pretty much blasphemous in this day and age! Especially since over 1 billion people worldwide are signed up to Facebook alone, never mind all the other social media accounts we feel pressure to join.

A few days before deleting my account I posted a status letting my friends know I was leaving for a while and I posted my email address for anyone who wanted to stay in touch with me. Posting status turned out to be one of the most interesting aspects of my social media cleanse. People who I didn’t expect to email me did and I soon began forming stronger friendships with these people. It was such a positive experience and I loved getting to know these people away from social media.

On the flip-side I noticed that some of the people I thought would keep in contact with me just fell off the radar and that was quite disappointing but overall, I was happy about my decision to leave Facebook for a while. It did wonders for my mental health and I felt much better overall.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media but it can be dangerous to our wellbeing if we focus on it too much. In a study done by Dr. Margaret Duffy, a University of Missouri journalism professor she concluded “We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression. Facebook can be a very positive resource for many people, but if it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect.”

Let’s be honest, viewing other people’s statuses can make us feel inferior and can make us envious of other peoples lives, even thought those happy-go-lucky statuses might be fictitious or sugar coated. It has been documented that the longer we spend on social media, the worse we feel. We begin to compare ourselves with others and measure our lives against that of our peers or online friends.

If social media is effecting your mental health, known that it is okay to remove yourself from it for a while. Take some time for yourself and do things for you, rather than for the sake of telling people on the internet what a great time you are having. Be mindful and enjoy each moment for what it is. Playing the comparison game can be addictive and the only way to break free from it is to live as authentically as possible.

Social media may connect us to the world but it most certainly isn’t the only way to connect with people. If you feel like stepping back from using social media as often, why not call up an old friend to arrange a coffee date, skype a friend who lives abroad and catch up with them, heck how about writing them a good old fashioned letter? I for one think that receiving a handwritten letter is one of the most beautiful things in the world! In fact, during my social media break a few friends and I decide to start sending postcards to each other to say hello and let our friends know we are thinking about them. I think people appreciate the effort that goes into writing a letter by hand and posting it off. It’s the simple things in life that count!

Just to clarify, I re-joined Facebook eventually but this time I no longer felt the need to constantly log in and see what was going on. I still send postcards to brighten peoples days, I choose voice mailing over texting whenever I can and my fear of missing out (FOMO) was gone and to this day I only log in a few times a week at best. I am really happy I decided to delete my account when I did, it was a very interesting experiment and I think everyone should try it out and see what they learn from it themselves.

Anyways, I am starting to sound like an old fart right now! Haha. What I’m trying to say is don’t let the arbitrary numbers and braggy posts get you down. Social media creates a fantasy world, so just remember, Facebook isn’t real life. Live your life for you and not for social media.

Those are my thoughts on this topic. What are yours? I’d love to hear them!

Tweet me your thoughts and opinions @EllieJayden or comment on Facebook (oh, the irony!)

Social Media Envy & Online Anxiety

This year I have been going through a mindful change, I decide to do my best to become more aware of life and what is going on around me and inside my head. As some of you may know I have suffered a bit this year with anxiety and it has been difficult to deal with, especially around stressful times and emotional times. I really wanted to write a honest blog about my feelings towards social media and I have forced myself to really take a look at what is going on inside my head and my heart and I discovered something that I am sure a lot of people can relate to. Loneliness and online envy.

You might be thinking “what? online envy?” let me explain.

Imagine you have been having what you assume to be a good day, maybe not even a good day, maybe just a decent day with no major hiccups. Then you log into your favorite social networking account to see that everyone is having the best damn time of their lives, travelling to exotic countries, hanging out with armies of friends, swinging from the ceilings of the hottest night club in town and having the best damn time ever it seems. All of a sudden your day seems like a total pile of shit, a sad existence, you feel like billy no mates and you may as well have not even bothered to get out of bed at all seems. You feel terrible and start to analyze your entire life and all of a sudden you don’t feel so good.  In reality, it only takes one beautifully filtered picture of a gorgeous friend to make you feel like quasimodo.

It can be really depressing, not to mention a super sonic hit to the ego. I don’t know about you but this happens to me a lot and as a self admitted over thinker, it can be really disheartening to log into a social networking account. It can cause me some panic and dread. I was chatting to a friend recently and I said “I don’t really like logging into facebook, it makes me feel anxious.” My friend replied with a raised eyebrow “Why!?” I explained and it didn’t seem to register with my friend the same as it did with me and I thought to myself, am I the only one who feels this way? Maybe my friend is just more secure then I am or, maybe they don’t follow enough beautiful internet celeb’s online!

Either way, I understood that this is something that needs to be discussed. Is online envy something that effects everyone at some point? And is it effecting how we live our lives?

I have a very close friend who doesn’t use facebook for this very reason and I admire her for that. Not having a facebook account these days is regarded as big a crime as not watching Breaking Bad is. IT IS INTERNET BLASPHEMY ALMOST! We live in the age of information technology, people can develop addictions to technology as easily as an addiction to cigarettes or drugs. There are technology addiction disorders such as Nomophobia, which is mobile phone addiction and Problematic Internet Use. It’s kinda scary and it makes me wonder what we are putting our poor psyche’s through on a daily basis when using the internet.

If you meet some one on a night out or at a social occasion, instead of asking for your mobile number now day’s most people will ask “Do you have facebook?” and what I have been thinking about is WHY? And I think I know the answer, we are an age obsessed with knowledge, we are more educated today than we ever where and we must know what is going on at all times and if we don’t we feel left out. Don’t get me wrong I am no stranger to this myself, I rather enjoy social networking, blogging and receiving information as fast as it is put out there. I usually know major news stories before my parents do because I check twitter constantly.

But there is a major down side, the thing that get’s me about social networking is that our lives are edited into the best fractions of their existence. The “best of” if you will. Honestly, I think social networking as made me paranoid and vain in some regards, if some one takes a picture of me and I don’t like it, a massive feeling of anxiety comes over me like a hurricane ready to hit, I don’t feel at ease until they delete it so I know that picture won’t pop up on social media to be seen by all online. What’s funny is, I should be used to it by now! I have been uploading online since the days of Myspace (yeah i’m old) and really, it should be just dirt off my shoulder. When you really think about it, there are companies out there that have taken advantage of these types of insecurities we have in today’s beauty obsessed world and have made apps based on them, photo editing apps where you can photo shop your blemishes while you sit on the bus, filters that make everything look more dream like, basically we give ourselves digital face lifts on our smartphones almost daily! Heck the word selfie has even made it into the dictionary!

The burning question on my mind is why do I care? Hell, why does anyone care! Why do we even feel the NEED to share our information with people and edit it before we release it into cyber space. I honestly think it is just a sign of the changing times. My Grandmother for example can not even fathom the idea of facebook and why people are so eager to share information about their daily lives so willingly. When it comes down to it, I really believe that seeing perfectly cropped and edited instagram pictures and epic statuses about the night before can cause us to feel a little envious at times, and naturally so. It is not strange or unusual to feel this way and I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone’s lives are so amazingly awesome 100% of the time and that the internet is full of optical illusions of illustrious lives and perfected camera phone photography!

Social networking usually only shares the half truth version of our lives, which really isn’t so bad in a sense, it might mean we still have some modesty left in us I guess! But it can instill the idea that everything is all sunshine in rainbows in everyone’s lives but your own, but at the end of the day that is no where near the full truth at all. I think we should take the time to tune out the outside world for at least a short while every day, I know we can not really avoid technology living in this era but we can at least take a few moments to get back to basics and take care of ourselves, chill out and relax our brains and let our egos go and enjoy the simple things in life.

Remember that as humans we are flawed but isn’t it our unique attributes that make us who we are? If only we could see life through a valencia filter but for now I am just happy when there is actually sunshine in Ireland!

Ellie xox