Think about the number of times you open a social media application on your smart phone every day. Did you know that recent research says that viewing social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram on a regular basis can increase the likelihood of experiencing depression and anxiety? When you think about it, it does actually makes sense. I frequently open Facebook and see that a lot of my friends are doing fun things such as going to the park, getting new puppies, going to new restaurants, or worse, hanging out without me. Needless to say, all my Facebook and Instagram friends look like they’re having the best day ever, every day, all year.
But if you step back and think about it, when it comes to social media posting most people tend to only share happy posts. One can assume that this trend gives viewers the false perception that everyone is always happy and that feelings such as sadness, loneliness, and anxiety do not exist. This not only creates the illusion for the viewer that everyone is living a life far happier than theirs, but it also creates an environment where depression and anxiety become taboo. Viewing these social media feeds can isolate individuals and make them believe they are alone with their feelings and no one else can relate; making difficult feelings more difficult to experience.
The one thing most people do not know is the one thing no one else is sharing on social media; other people feel sad too sometimes.
Unlike adults, adolescents do not have as many experiences to help them understand their feelings which can prevent them from communicating effectively. Emotions come with a huge learning curve; it takes time and experience with different situations to learn about all of our emotions. If adolescents only experience one feeling in social media land how can we expect them to know that feeling sad or lonely is okay too? Social media is creating a space where mental illness cannot be talked about – so let’s start talking about. Encourage your teens to talk about how they are feeling and not just how society thinks they should feel. Increasing communication is a great way to normalize feelings or explore areas that might need more help. Sharing feelings can be scary for everyone to express, especially if we think no one can relate. Let’s show our teens that it’s okay to talk about it.