A few weeks ago, my friends and I were driving in the beautiful and exquisite neighbourhood of Beverly Hills. As I write this, I am shaking my head in utter wonder as I think back to 10 years ago. I would never have imagined that we would literally be in Beverly Hills and living our best life. I grew up before the times of Netflix, satellite tv and the internet, all we had were the channels provided by the South African government. My first exposure to Beverly Hills was through TV Soapies like the Bold and the Beautiful which my grandmother was so obsessed with.

Though we still face tremendous challenges as the world becomes more intertwined, from a social, economic and political front, I must say the vast opportunities to travel have really been beneficial.

Back to our Beverly Hills experience, so my friends love taking pictures and sharing almost all elements of our travel adventures. I remember sitting in the car, a bit annoyed and wondering ‘what’s up with these two and everyone else, obsessed with sharing photos and insta stories! lol’ and then it hit me. It’s nothing too profound, but just my realisation that, what once seemed like the unattainable life has become so attainable or rather an ‘attainable illusion’. We used to witness celebrities on television and magazines, sharing pictures of their so called “glorious” life. And now well, through technology in the form of smart devices and the advent of social media, we can all experience the “celebrity-me” phenomenon. This new world of picture taking and sharing our lives has made us feel like celebrities and truth is, human beings are obsessed with living the extraordinary life. As the saying goes “If it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen”.

Of course, this “celebrity-me” phenomenon brings with many negative consequences. In a study conducted by experts, they list 6 main negative effects of social media, namely:

  • It’s addictive
  • It triggers more sadness, less well-being
  • Comparing our lives with others is mentally unhealthy
  • It can lead to jealousy—and a vicious cycle
  • We get caught in the delusion of thinking it will help
  • More friends on social doesn’t mean you’re more social

Read more at (https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#30cef3f22e5a)

Some of the negative effects listed above suggests that social media may have a negative effect on our mental health. We are in an era where more and more people across the world live with a mental health diagnosis. However, it’s encouraging to see thorough research being done to demystify the stigma around mental health. An example of this work can be read in this article- (https://www.jenreviews.com/mental-health-diagnosis/). 

This is a beautifully written piece on mental health, providing thorough awareness of what it is and pens a blueprint that empowers people on how to deal with a mental health diagnosis.

However all the negative effects mentioned  in the forbes article are very relevant. There are also other more devastating instances (like the story of a child dying because the mom was taking a selfie, check out, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5721307/Horrifying-moment-baby-dies-mother-taking-selfies-shopping-centre-escalator-drops-her.html).

I am not saying we shouldn’t share moments of our lives on social media, of course we can. I am also not trying to be prescriptive about our social media usage, but as a self-proclaimed advocate for Human Rights, I think we must be cautious of social media usage so that it doesn’t steal our moment to moment happiness.

What are your thoughts on the above article? Please share at bongeka@fresh.penthevision.co.za