With the astronomical rise of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram we have also seen the rise in numerous mental issues. We all seem to live and die by our followers, our likes, and our online image. But is this healthy for us? Is it healthy for our children to inherit this mess? Mariela Ticas dives into this issue for her column “Mariela Talks…“.
In today’s world, social media is the platform where folks can reconnect with the old and connect with the new. It’s a place where businesses can garner new customers and company brands can flourish. It’s a domain in which celebrities rule with their exotic photos and millions of followers. However, there is another side to this ivory tower of our time, a much darker element.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated more than 300 people world-wide suffer from depression. Could this be due to our lives being reduced to the number of Likes and Followers on our social media profiles? Is this some kind of sickening “New Age” enslavement? A study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology found that regular Facebook use had a negative impact on an individual’s wellbeing. That’s not even considering the effects of cyber-bullying and the impact it has on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has even warned, “[…] it is important that parents become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents.”
In 2015, Vice posted and article about an overwhelming amount of Millennials, including Gen Z, deleting their social media accounts. If you’ve ever entertained the thought of leaving social media, you’re obviously not alone! And it looks like many A-List celebrities aren’t far behind either. While researching this topic, I discovered (through a Google search) a list of 25 celebrities who have chosen to stay off the social media grid. Celebrities such as George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, and Scarlett Johansson were on the list.
Scarlett Johansson explained to The Huffington Post, “I don’t have Facebook or a Twitter account, and I don’t know how I feel about this idea of, ‘Now, I’m eating dinner, and I want everyone to know that I’m having dinner at this time,’ or ‘I just mailed a letter and dropped off my kids.’ That, to me, is a very strange phenomenon. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than have to continuously share details of my everyday life.”
Something that resonated deeply with me came from an interview with Emma Stone. She told The Los Angeles Times, “It’s that need to be liked, that need to be seen, that need to be validated, […] It seems like everyone’s cultivating their lives on Instagram or on different forms of social media, and what pictures looks best of their day. […] It’s this very modern Keeping Up With The Joneses.” These are words of wisdom from a few of the world’s most renowned successful actors and we should take note of their wisdom.
So much hate brews in comment sections that by now we must assume this was all an experiment! An experiment that has indeed failed miserably. Any chance we thought we had of having an intelligent discussion, one without our faces attached to the words we speak or type, has failed. All we have are photos to represent ourselves on the platforms, but not our identity as a whole person. How successful can any conversation be when the windows of the soul are blocked with artificial screens?
We are constantly posting the best and authorized versions of ourselves, instead of the raw and authentic version of ourselves. We are fabricating faux friendships made through the internet and we are all plagued by trolls and spying eyes. Yet we feel uplifted by the praises of strangers and the number of likes we get. It is like the dawn of an “artificial-bipolar disorder”. The speed and magnitude of the ups and downs on the net have never seen before — a mechanical Catch-22, where the likes can’t come without the hate. Have our brains evolved enough in the past decade to catch up with this trending phenomena, or have we literally gone over our heads?
According to Alvin Toffler the author of Future Shock, we have most definitely gone over our heads. He accurately predicted a future of rapid evolvement having a negative impact on society. Most importantly Toffler warned that superficial relationships with a large number of people as opposed to closeness would take over. That sounds a whole lot like social media. Social media is eliminating the creation of truthful and authentic moments. Saying, “But first, let me take a selfie,” has become the standard rule. The days of having a face-to-face conversation are becoming virtually extinct. Our minds are being reprogrammed to live through an artificial lens instead of through the eye of the beholder.
Does social media actually threaten the stability of our peace of mind? With so much happening in the world today, peace should be the number one priority to strive towards, not the amount of followers we have on our social media platforms. The old phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words” was before the invention of filters and photoshop. So next time you post your latest summer photo, ask yourself if the number of likes is really worth your sanity.
Everything comes with a price.
Mariela Ticas lives in Los Angeles, CA. and is a regular contributor to ATRP. She is a podcast personality/co-host/blogger for “The Strange Kamelion Show” on iTunes and is an active member of Sag-Aftra as a performer. She has always been a writer at heart and got her start writing poetry as a teen. Mariela got her start in the entertainment industry back in 2012 and is now currently working on her first children’s book! On her downtime, she’s a volunteer member of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. You can follow Mariela on Instagram, or Twitter! Be sure to read her podcast blog, and scope her IMDb for upcoming features.
Stock image by Jeremy Levin / Pexels.