Social media’s impact on our mental health has been discussed and studied for a while now. It is a contemporary concern and we are trying to understand how bad it is, and how bad it could get. As usual, we don’t really know the answer but we can pick an opinion based on our current mood: pessimistic, balanced or optimistic. Just choose one!
I am an artist and became a curator not long ago. I have been in the music business for 10 years and I wrote some “damn good” songs. But fame’s not there yet. I believe I can fly. Oh, and I am also known as a millennial. I hear we are supposed to be the selfish ones… but mainly, millennials are known for being addicted to social media. And I guess it’s true!
Right now, for example, I am irritated. I just moved into a new apartment and I’m waiting for a proper internet connection. I am not asking for much, damn it! To keep me waiting, they gave me this 3G USB key and it’s driving me crazy! It’s slow and disconnects all the time. Aaahhhhh I’m gonna kill someone!!!
More seriously, I am usually connected, and when I say connected, it’s almost 24/7! Like basically everybody, I have my own Instagram, and another account for my website “curated by GIRLS”, and I switch from one to the other all day long. It’s now a big part of my life/job and I find the online world quite efficient for many reasons: easy access to information, art, contact. Let’s not forget how useful the internet really is. You can find anything immediately.
But I am addicted. And to admit it is already something. I guess I’m in the process of recovering! Yay! It took me some time to realize I was addicted, to realize it’s just a game. So I started playing it instead of enduring it. I was born with Facebook, the addiction to likes, the need for validation, dealing with the mean comments from strangers on my posts… it has been running my life for a while. You can’t imagine how affected I would be if I didn’t get likes when posting a song or a photo. What a terrible feeling! I was a depressed, anxious, insomniac. As ridiculous as it is, I felt worthless!
But here’s a funny fact: it’s when I started to care less that my followers started to add up. I just didn’t care as much. Less pressure has led to more creativity. And simple things like putting my phone in the living room instead of the bedroom have also helped. Saying hello to your BF before checking your emails in the morning is actually nice!
So yeah, social media can take you far! But my problem was more profound. I realized we are raised in a society based on recognition & gratification. We have a constant pressure since childhood: be the good student, be successful, make a comfortable living, raise your kids, and so on. And with the internet and social media’s influence, we want EVERYTHING NOW!
This quote from Krishnamurti keeps resonating in me: “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society”. Let’s face it: our society is sick and we don’t want to face it. It’s not just social media to blame; it’s how we conceive and construct life. And this makes me wonder who is mentally ill, really? Who are the aliens? Am I, as an artist, trying to pursue my dream? Is it my friend who’s a pathological liar because he got caught up in a downward spiral trying to fit our society’s high standard? Or my other friend, who has a bipolar disorder, constant panic attacks and is afraid of leaving his apartment because he can deeply sense the absurdity of all of this? Is it eventually my successful friend always standing proud, succeeding in everything he does?
I simplify things on purpose, but you see what I mean. Not long ago, we thought witches existed, right? And we would slaughter them without an ounce of a doubt!
So yeah. We are addicts. We’re a highly depressed generation, impatient, narcissist, craving satisfaction and recognition. Our Western civilization created this world, created a society of consumerism. We now sell our souls like vulgar products, just for a slice of the pie. We want people to LOVE us, but do we honestly love each other? Do we really evolve harmoniously? Do you find our society healthy? Are we healthy?
Let me doubt it and at the same time, let’s not make it a drama! Balance is right there, behind madness. So if you are using social media, just beware! Don’t take it too seriously, enjoy it, step back if you don’t, and limit it in order to protect your mental health!
All images: Philippe Duval