Blog #4 – Social Media and Mental Health

Blog #4 – Social Media and Mental Health

We all use social media to a certain extent and some people use it more than others. We use it to connect with friends and relatives, share pictures and to find out what’s happening in our social circles. Some experts believe that the more we engage with social media the lonelier and more isolated we feel. Does the use of social media negatively affect our mental health? 

According to Forbes, it is suggested that the persistent use of social media can result in sadness, feelings of isolation and depression. (Walton, 2017) It’s strange that the very thing we look for in social media, social interaction, actually leaves us feeling worse and more alone. When we use social media we often compare our lives with the lives others are projecting online. We judge ourselves based on the things that other people post. This is called the ‘Comparison Factor’ which can lead to negative feelings about oneself as well as feelings of jealousy and envy toward others. (Walton, 2017) Feelings of inadequacy and lowered self-esteem definitely have a negative affect on our mental health. 

Why do we continue to use social media if it makes us feel bad about ourselves and our lives? 

In the same Forbes article it suggests that we continue to use social media because we are addicted to it. (Walton, 2017) I think we all wonder sometimes if this is the case. Do you check your phone first thing in the morning? I know I do. In a study from Nottingham Trent University they discovered that some behaviours associated with social media are similar to those associated with other forms of addiction such as drugs or alcohol. Some of those behaviours are: ‘neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behaviour’. (Walton, 2017) They also discovered that stopping the use of social media resulted in symptoms of withdrawal in some people both behaviourally and physiologically. (Walton, 2017) 

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, researchers have used MRI scans to monitor the activity in the reward centres of people’s brains while using social media. It has been found that we react positively to ‘likes’ on social media networks at a neurological level. The activity observed in the subjects’ brains in this experiment has also been compared to drug or alcohol addiction. (CMHA, n.d.) 

The CMHA has also said that, not unlike alcohol and drug addiction, the precursors for excessive social media use are existing mental health issues and well as loneliness, low-self esteem and depression (CMHA, n.d.) As mentioned earlier, some of these are also caused by of the overuse of social media.

How do we free ourselves form this vicious cycle?

We can wean ourselves off of social media by removing the apps from our phones to help limit our use. If you are looking for encouragement the CMHA has a number of helpful suggestions. 99 Days of Freedom is one of them. It is an experiment where people try to stay off of Facebook for 99 days. Researchers check in with the participants periodically throughout the 99 days to monitor the participants progress. There are many other resources available if you feel you need help with your social media dependency: The Centre for Internet and Technology Addiction, ementalhealth.ca or Humanetech.com.

Do you feel you suffer from social media addiction?

Promotional Posts

Facebook: Are you addicted to social media? Check out my blog about Social Media and Mental Health https://bit.ly/2Ngm9ZP

Twitter: Are you addicted to social media? #hcsm #mentalhealthawareness https://bit.ly/2Ngm9ZP

Resources

Walton, G. (June, 2017), ‘6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health’ Retrieved From https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#5eeb5faf2e5a

Canadian Mental Health Association, (n.d.), Addictions and Problematic Internet Use, Retrieved From https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/addictions-and-problematic-internet-use/

Blog #3 – Cyberbullying: The Down Side of Social Media.

Blog #3 – Cyberbullying: The Down Side of Social Media.

There are many upsides to social media, especially these days, when we aren’t seeing our friends and relatives in person because of social distancing. Social media has become our lifeline, our way to socialize, to keep up with current trends and it’s where a lot of us now get our news. However, there are many downsides to social media, Cyberbullying is one of them. When we think of bullying we often think of teenagers. We think of the schoolyard bullies that exist in every school, in every country in the world. Social media was not around when I was in high school, something I am very thankful for. I cannot imagine what that would have been like. Social media has given the schoolyard bully both the power and the weapon. Cyberbullying is a plague upon social media. However, bullying isn’t just for teenagers, adults do it to. 

Image Source

According to Wikipedia, Cyberbullying is “an aggressive, intentional act or behaviour that is carried out by a group or an individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.” (Cyberbullying, n.d.) In our current social climate this happens online everyday regardless of age.

According to study in Psychology Today, adults are just as likely as teenagers to be involved in cyberbullying if not more so. Adults 18-25 years old experience the most elevated levels of bullying online, followed by those 26-35 years old, of which 24% claim to have been cyberbullied. This study suggests that people of all ages report having experienced forms of online harassment, including 6.5 %of those over 66 years old. (Scheff, 2019)

Cyberbullying can take on many forms. It can be as simple as name calling, emotional intimidation or spreading rumours and can escalate to harassment, torment or threatening behaviour. (Birdsong, 2017) We see it on our social platforms and in our work lives. Online harassment and bullying can have a lasting affect on one’s mental health, reputation and in extreme cases can lead to more dangerous situations like cyberstalking or suicide. There are many potential long term effects of cyberbullying. According to the End To Cyberbullying Organization: Depression, low self-esteem and dating abuse can be some long-term effects of cyberbullying. In the most extreme cases suicide is a serious risk as well. Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia is a well known example of this. She was a seventeen year old high school student who committed suicide after having photographs of her alleged gang rape posted and shared online. (Suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, n.d.)  As terrible as this case was, it did have a positive impact on the laws surrounding cyberbullying. More information can be found here: Intimate Images and Cyber-Protection Act.

Social media makes us susceptible to the Bystander Effect. By definition the bystander effect is “is a social psychology theory that states that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when there are other people present” (Bystander Effect, n.d.) Because social media is public, we assume others will do something to help so we don’t have to. 

So, What can we do if we think someone is being cyberbullied? How can we help?

There are a couple of steps that can be taken. Firstly, do not engage with the aggressor, do not ‘like’ or forward what they are posting. Report the incident to the social media platform they are using. You can also private message the victim and offer support. (Scheff, 2019) If you want to offer professional support to someone who is being cyberbullied, for adults contact The Cyber Smile Foundation’s Global Support Service and children can always contact the Kids Help Phone.

The next time you see someone being bullied online will you reach out and help? 

References

  1. Birdsong, T. (January, 2017), Trends: Adult Cyberbulling is No Laughing Matter Retrieved from https://www.mcafee.com/blogs/consumer/family-safety/trends-adult-cyberbulling-is-no-laughing-matter/
  2. End Cyberbullying, (n.d.) A Surprising Long-term Effect of Cyberbullying Retrieved from https://www.endcyberbullying.org/a-surprising-long-term-effect-of-cyberbullying/
  3. Scheff, S. (November, 2019), Psychology Today, ‘Adult Cyberbullying Is More Common Than You Think’ Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/shame-nation/201911/adult-cyberbullying-is-more-common-you-think
  4. Wikipedia (n.d.), Cyberbullying Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/shame-nation/201911/adult-cyberbullying-is-more-common-you-think
  5. Wikipedia (n.d.) Suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Rehtaeh_Parsons
  6. Wikipedia (n.d.) Bystander Effect Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect

Promotional Posts

Facebook – We all see negative things posted on social media. Find out how to be a part of the solution! Cyberbullying: The Down Side of Social Media https://bit.ly/3hitru7

Twitter – Cyberbullying: The Down Side of Social Media #cyberbullyingawareness #rehtaehparsonsishername #cyberbullyingkills https://bit.ly/3hitru7

Has the pandemic changed how businesses use Social Media?

Has the pandemic changed how businesses use Social Media?

I have worked in the same restaurant for 13 years. For most of that time we have used some form of social media, primarily Facebook and then later Twitter and Instagram. We are told that there are rules for engagement for all social media platforms. We must aim for the “Baby Bear” approach for content and posting, not too much, not too little, it has to be just right! In this new reality, when other forms of customer engagement aren’t possible, are businesses changing the way they interact with customers online? Has the pandemic changed how and when businesses use social media?

Image Source

Businesses all over the world have been forced to shut their doors to the general public. Online shopping has become the new normal for many businesses and consumers. Some retail are now allowed to open again in Ontario, however a number of them are only at half capacity or by appointment and restaurants remain open for take-out only for the foreseeable future. Either way, social media has become the main form of communication for businesses. Do the old rules still apply? Have businesses changed their approach to social media?

According to Forbes, social media usage is up, not only for individuals but for businesses as well. Businesses are posting 15-20% more on social media than there were pre-Covid. Businesses are also changing how they use it. Social media has become more intimate, more personal, companies are taking the time to engage one-on one with their customers. Things have definitely been headed this way for a while. Marketers have seen the light, feedback and direct contact with customers does improve brand and customer loyalty. Listening to the customer has become the new norm, especially during these uncertain times. Is this something that will persist post pandemic or is it just a way to keep us spending in uncertain times?

Image source

Before the Pandemic there were specific times of the day that were seen as most optimal for posting. According to Sprout Social those times have also changed in the last couple of months. People’s routines are different and many are working form home. Where 11am to 1-2pm, somewhere around lunch hour, was previously a sweet spot for posting, it turns out that is has changed to 11am. Even the peak days of the week for social media traffic have shifted.

Most businesses have had to pivot in one way or another over the last few months as the world has changed. It looks like businesses have altered their social media practices in order to conform to new norms. They are posting more, interacting more with consumers and are posting at different times of the day and week in order to keep up with society’s new schedule. Will this be a permanent change in the way we see businesses interacting with customers? Will social media practices continue to pivot as our society adjusts to our new reality?

Promotional Posts

Facebook – How have Businesses have pivoted their social media use during quarantine? https://bit.ly/2BG83yA

Twitter – New trends in Social Media #socialmediamarketing https://bit.ly/2BG83yA

Is Live Streaming the New Normal?

photo credit: Anna-m.w. from pexels

We are in strange times. Things have changed. The old order is out and the new order is in. Our lives have become considerably different in recent months and it doesn’t seem they will return to ‘normal’ anytime soon. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a large impact on all of our lives and that includes how we interact with social media. Live streaming, that was already on the rise, has gained significant traction in the last few months as we social distance and remain quarantined in our homes. We cannot go out to see our favourite band, orchestra, or dance troupe. All over the world theatres are closed and festivals of all kinds have been cancelled or postponed. As a society we crave entertainment and artists will always seek a platform to show their wares. In our current situation this platform can only be virtual. Many popular social media platforms offer live streaming: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Periscope. https://dustinstout.com/live-streaming-social-media/ 

Is this move to a virtual arena the new normal?

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cutROw_NJvE

Many artists have moved to live streaming over the past few months. Musicians are hosting virtual concerts, actors and authors are reading books, comedians are performing stand up, poets reciting poems, dancers dancing etc. We now have a large catalogue of art available for free at the click of a button. Some people include crowdsourcing tools such as GoFundMe or Patreon on their Facebook page or as a link in their bio on Instagram. That is merely a suggested donation not a cover charge or ticket price. By consequence, is live streaming devaluing art or is it just a means to an end in a time where there is no other option for public consumption? Will live streaming change the face of the arts scene forever or bridge a gap for the time being?

Before the Coronavirus live streaming was used an advertising tool, to promote a live show, an album release or book launch. In these strange times the live stream is the event. Live streaming has been said to help increase the artists online presence but does it compensate the artist fairly for their work? https://www.musicradar.com/news/stream-out-loud-how-the-music-industry-is-adapting-to-the-new-normal 

credit: Stageit

There are other, lesser known live streaming sites around that charge per view. Stageit is a good example. They charge about $15 a show and have a tip jar as well if one is so inclined. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-04-20/musicians-turn-to-streaming-concerts-amid-coronavirus This type of site is moving in the right direction as far as compensation goes but they lack the built-in audience of Facebook or Instagram.

Live steaming is probably not going to go away anytime soon. Clearly there is room for both live art and live streaming but the question is, will the popularity of live streaming continue in a post-pandemic world and will it have a lasting impact on how we value, experience and consume art?

Can our consumer based society return to a system where we pay fairly for live entertainment or will free live streaming change the game?

I guess only time will tell…

Promotional Posts

Facebook: Our artistic landscape is changing. Is live streaming the new normal? https://bit.ly/3d2SJtB

Twitter: Is live music dead? Is live streaming the new normal? #livestream #coronaconcert #newnormal https://bit.ly/3d2SJtB