Things are never what they appear to be.

Having suffered from hallucinations as a symptom of my Bipolar Disorder I have learnt that just because you see something, doesn’t mean it’s real. The same goes for social media sites like Facebook and Instagram – it’s all an illusion. People post what they want others to see, so that the public can perceive them in a particular way.

This may give an illusion of wealth, success or happiness and gives the user a false sense of worth.

As a member of a number of forums for Bipolar and mental health patients I’ve learnt that there are a number of social issues associated with social media and if you suffer from a mental illness, this can cause some serious havoc to your health and wellbeing.

  • Comparison – As the saying goes “comparison is the thief of joy”. And we’re all guilty of it. As you scroll through your Instagram feed it would appear that everyone is living a life of flowers and holidays, beautiful clothes and a crazy social life. Try not to get sucked into this world of beautiful imagery and remember that each of us is unique and different with our own story to tell. There is no need to compare yourself to others.
  • Friends/Followers/Likes – Just because someone has thousands of Facebook friends and/or followers doesn’t necessarily mean they are popular in real life. For one, these can be purchased at a very cheap rate. Secondly, the number of likes or followers you have isn’t a true representation of your actual life. A lot of people who have a large following is purely because of what they are presenting to the public. Again, you shouldn’t allow these numbers to validate your worth.
  • Online persona – We all know the show Keeping Up With Appearances. Poor ole Mrs Bucket (who insists on pronouncing her name “Bouquet”), wants to portray a life of wealth and success, particularly to those of upper class despite her average standing. She avoids her poorer relatives and hides her true beginnings. It’s the same with our online persona. Depending on the purpose for a profile (Business or Personal), it’s easy to “create the life you want to lead” via beautiful imagery (usually others), motivational quotes and bragging statuses. Remember to be as authentic as possible, as your story and you matter. Being yourself and honest about the way you portray yourself through social media is more empowering than anything.
  • Stalking – Sadly stalking is a very easy habit to get into. Whether you’re checking up on what your ex’s are doing, or seeing what your friends got up to the weekend, stalking on social media can lead down a dark and dangerous path. If you’re experiencing a bit of paranoia, getting your stalk on can sometimes cause you to be enabled by that paranoia and can lead to a misinterpretation or something worse. If you find that looking at certain peoples profiles is getting a little out of control and causing you anxiety, try unfollowing or unfriending them. What you don’t see, won’t hurt you!
  • Time waster – It’s so easy to spend hours and hours scrolling through your Instagram feed and looking at Facebook profile photos and before you know it, half your day has gone. For people with addictive personalities, social media can lead to addiction and over analysis. If you find that you’re spending too much time on social media sites, try only checking your stats as certain times during the day, this way you can allocate a safe amount of time.
  • Cyber bullying – It’s shocking to think that this is even an issue, but sadly there are a lot of angry and twisted people in this world who get off on being trolls. Hitting strangers with words so cruel that can lead to serious emotional abuse or worse is a crime and unacceptable. If you experience a cyber bully, the best thing to do is to ignore them.

With so many sites available for us to interact and “network” with others, there is bound to have a social impact on those that use them. One thing that I like to keep in mind so I don’t get jealous or crazy, is to remember that what you see isn’t always the real thing. It’s all an optical illusion. Focus more on what you’re doing and how you’re portraying yourself and worry less about others.

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Images sourced from Pinterest