I don’t know whether anyone has noticed (or if you even care) but this post is my triumphant return from a two week hiatus from blogging. I’ve been unwell. More specifically a previously undiagnosed deficiency in Vitamin D has been getting in the way of everyday living. After months of feeling exhausted, achy and quite frankly a bit blue, a series of blood tests confirmed the deficiency and a daily supplement has been added to my diet in order to get my body and mind functioning at full capacity again.
Whilst unwell I admittedly became a bit of a couch potato, spending my Easter break from university alternating between sleeping and watching Netflix in my pyjamas. This did however give me the opportunity to enjoy Ingrid Goes West, a film I’d been meaning to watch for a while.
The film, starring Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, follows an unhinged social media stalker named Ingrid who becomes obsessed with an Instagram ‘influencer’ and moves to Los Angeles in order to insinuate herself into her idol’s life. It presents a satirical view of how people use social media as a form of self-actualisation and a whole bunch of cliches, jabbing at avocado toast and #blessed amongst others. While the events that take place are exaggerated and (hopefully) highly unlikely, it did get me thinking about the addictive, toxic qualities of Instagram and its effects on the mental health of those who use it.
As a millennial, social media plays a big part of my life. As a blogger, it plays an even bigger one. I post to my feed three times a week (all filtered, captioned and hashtagged to within an inch of their life), to my story pretty much daily, and I spend hours upon hours scrolling through the feeds of my friends, other bloggers, celebrities and the odd cat. Most people would consider me a ‘social media addict’ and they’re probably right.
I also struggle greatly with my mental health, although that’s a story for another day and in no way caused by social media. It started long before I even knew what Instagram was. That being said, I’m not ignorant to that fact that it is more than likely affected by it. Whilst social media is undoubtably a great force for connecting with friends, sharing memories and as a tool for self-promotion, it can also take a serious toll on our collective mental wellbeing. There are many complex levels to this discussion but overarching everything is the curse of comparison.
It’s far too easy to get sucked into a vortex of negativity – constantly thinking things along the lines of: Why can’t I look like her? Why doesn’t my camera take pictures like that? Why don’t I have as many Instagram followers as them? Why isn’t my blog growing as quickly as his? Why I am not interesting / beautiful / witty enough to follow? After enough of these thoughts have travelled through your mind, they can start to bring about intense feelings of simply not being good enough, and certainly, for a person with mental health issues, exacerbate existing problems.
So, just like you take your medication or practise mindfulness in everyday life, extend your self-care to online. Aim to fill your feeds with people and content that make you feel good – for me this includes a series of accounts featuring baby bunnies. If a blogger / friend / anybody else makes you feel bad about yourself, just unfollow them, or block them if you feel the need. Take some time away from it all if you’re having a tough week. It’s not that big of a deal – it’ll still be there when you get back.
And lastly, always remember, a post on social media is not always an accurate depiction of the owner’s day. For example, in order to take the picture of the Gucci bag above, I got dressed, had my mother take a series of images against the garden shed, then immediately put my pyjamas back on and returned to the couch for a nap.
Peace and love, Bec