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Look Up: Blogging, Social Media and Mental Health

Hello my lovely,

I’ve been thinking about the possible link between blogging, social media and mental health for a while now.

Just like physical health, we are on a constant continuum, we can be in good or great mental health and we can be in poor mental health. Poor mental health (or mental health illness) doesn’t happen to those types of people. It happens to all of us. From feelings of stress and anxiety, to depression, and bi-polar disorder.

Aside from running Nu Bride I also work as a holistic therapist with adults with mild, moderate and sometimes severe mental vulnerability.

When I read this post on Rock N Roll Bride in February, simultaneously, I was also in the middle of dealing with a tragic suicide. Devastating. Kat’s post about beautiful Jo, shocked and saddened the wedding community, the impact it had, the supportive and brave comments it generated, emphasised the fact that many people we know, or are connected with, have experienced mental health illness in some way.

A large amount of some of my favourite bloggers including Kat, have openly shared their personal experiences and own battles with mental health, with their readers.

I attended a conference by Mind mental health charity and it was reported that there has been a huge increase in mental health illness in the UK. So I have started to wonder if one of the reasons there continues to be an increase in mental health illness, is because of the artificial way we are interacting with each other; Social media.

If you haven’t already seen this brilliant short video on this very topic called, Look Up, produced, directed and written by Gary Turk take a peek:


This made me think. And think again.

It also made me realise how it has become possible for it to be statistically reported that the UK is becoming a generation that is less caring of others. So evident if we are ignoring people around us and constantly isolating ourselves in our electronic devices.

Gary Turk says: I have 424 friends – yet I’m lonely. I speak to all of them only, yet, none of them really know me.

This media we call social is anything but…

Is social media making us anti-social beings?

someecard | www.nubride.com

Social media allows us to create caricatures of ourselves. It allows us to portray ourselves in the best way possible with ‘edit’ and ‘delete’ at our disposal. To share our successes but rarely our disappointments, or our vulnerability or pain. The very things that also make us human.

Our need to seek approval and daily praise is magnified. We want friends and sometimes strangers, to endorse our feelings by ‘liking’ our Facebook status, or an image upload, which on the reverse can mean we feel  instantly vulnerable or dejected when that expected ‘like’ or applaud, does not come.

Now take blog comments as another example: Sometimes (and I can vouch for this) it can be hugely disheartening to spend time thinking about and carefully curating content, only to get zero comments. It can feel like the equivalent of talking to someone face-to-face and then them just walking past you, not making any eye contact, possibly yawning and not saying a single word in response. Is no-one reading? Did I say something to offend someone? Am I utterly useless and boring? Is everyone on holiday in the Caribbean?

www.nubride.com_0853Via Pinterest

The possibilities of ‘no response’ create intricate ways for our minds to interpret what it ‘could’ mean and fill in the gaps, when someone does not reply to an email, or text message instantly, or ‘like’ a photograph, or unfollow on twitter.

Discovering that heartfelt ‘tweet’ you thought was considered and kindly composed just for you, being tweeted several times to others with the exact same ‘heartfelt’ words.

In the blogging and social media world, the opportunities to consistently compare ourself to others are amplified, producing deafening sounds of self-doubt.

Is this need for constant feedback and praise confusing us with what is important in life? Creating unrealistic expectations of perfection and false examples of happiness. Is it starting to wreak unprecedented havoc on our self-esteem, confidence, identity and how we define ourselves? All contributors to mental vulnerability.

When did we start becoming so anti-social?

I too am guilty of feeling the need to ‘share’ instantly on social media. When you strip it down, it’s quite bizarre behaviour isn’t it. As if we will all suddenly spontaneously combust if we don’t update instagram with ‘real time’ pictures of our food whilst eating in a restaurant.

Mr Nu Bride took me out for a surprise date night to the Shard recently. With such breathtaking views and beautiful food of course the temptation to get my ‘social media’ on, was too great. I couldn’t help myself from taking pictures and wanting to share them instantly on instagram and the only thing that saved me from the insanity of social media, was the fact I had no mobile network.  lol!

Then the sun started setting, I took my phone off the dining table and I put it in my handbag and appreciated the very moment I got to spend with just one person, no distractions, no emails, no Facebook notifications. Just us and those breathtaking views of a city I had actually forgotten was so beautiful.

Someecards | www.nubride.com

When did we stop being present and living in the moment? When was it socially acceptable for a family of four to be out in a restaurant, with their heads down, all on their mobile devices without saying a word to each other.

Gary Turk says:

We’re surrounded by children who since they were born, have watched us living like robots and think its the norm

It’s not likely you’ll make Worlds Greatest Dad, if you can’t entertain a child without using an ipad

When did it become socially acceptable for a 4-year-old  desperately trying to seek attention and gain real, live interaction from their parent only for them to be ignored while they are scrolling through a Facebook timeline.

Social media makes it far too easy to paint the perfect picture of perfection. A life that is not necessarily ours. To compare our lives to others (including celebrities) and feel the overbearing feeling of inadequacy when our life does not match up to a snippet of a life portrayed on our timelines.

We create virtual ways to feel like we ‘belong’ . Some have admitted, that actually creating opportunities to interact, meet and engage with people in person, terrifies them,  because there is no opportunity to edit, distort or delete.

When I started blogging, I decided not to keep my identity hidden, I wanted people to see a face and to get a feel for who I am. Whilst I don’t and choose not to air every intricate aspect of my life on Nu Bride,  I am  also not adverse to the occasional personal rambling either, I find it quite cathartic too. Many of my favourite bloggers are the same, very honest and open, sharing their successes, their vulnerability and their talents. They create a virtual space so you can relate to them and almost feel like you know them. On the other side of the spectrum,  some bloggers choose to hide their identity –  not attaching their name or any aspect of their personal life to their blog. Dissociating themselves from the virtual v’s real world, adding a sense of intrigue and mystery. Neither is right or wrong but do our blogging avatars impact how we behave, how we feel about and portray ourselves in person?

Perhaps having a blog provides an opportunity to create an alter ego. Something to hide behind?A chance to act!

Creating the projection of someone  you want to be rather than who you are? That popular girl or guy at school that you never really were, that super cool talented person, bursting with energy  the life and soul of the party who in fact is struggling massively with low self-esteem or depression.

Hannes Kilian| www.nubride.com_0852Copyright: Hannes Kilian: Image source

Electronic devices provide us with somewhere to hide. They can also make us feel invincible.

We are bolder, braver, sometimes more curt and less considerate via the virtual world then we would be in person because we are protected. Is this virtual super power a contributor to what is making our generation less caring of others? Or is it because we simply don’t notice how others are feeling because we don’t see them and we don’t ask since they didn’t mention it in their Facebook status?

This video really got me thinking about my own relationship with social media. How the by-product of social media is in-fact isolation. How social media can impact people’s confidence (myself included) and induce a  very scary, sudden need for daily adulation.

So I will leave you with a little thought about  being mindful ‘paying attention on purpose’.

How can we be more mindful each day and appreciate just being present?

Well we can all start today by paying attention to ourselves; e.g: lying in bed and feeling nothing other than the sheets on our skin and the soft mattress on our back, ignoring the never-ending list of things to do swirling round in our heads and  just press ‘pause’

Go to a concert or live event. Watch the live act, feel their music, listen to every sound, experience it in full without recording it on your mobile phone.

www.nubride.com_0850

Listening to your other half tell you about their day without typing on your laptop or unloading the dishwasher at the same time.

Leaving your phone at home when going out to a restaurant with friends.  Sitting down at the dinner table and eating a meal, noticing every bite, every texture and flavour, instead of multi-tasking whilst watching tele, emailing or even walking.

Start to try to pay attention to others.  Just notice them. By simply noticing and asking if they are ok, can have a huge positive impact on someones wellbeing, as well as your own. Surely this is a great start in re-connecting the human race.

I am guilty of everything in this video and shall be taking heed. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tweet, but I shall use this bank holiday weekend to turn off my laptop and to re-connect and think about creating more balance.

I shall leave you with some of Gary Turks final words;

Take in your surroundings and make the most of the today….Be there in the moment.

Give people your LOVE don’t give them your ‘like. Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined, go out into the world, leave distractions behind.

Much love
Nova

xxx

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16 Responses to “Look Up: Blogging, Social Media and Mental Health”

  1. Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
    May 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    A great and timely post lovely Nova. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction and living in the moment. You’re a very intelligent, articulate and impressive ambassador for big-hearted, open-eyed living!! Keep up the great work, it does not go unnoticed xxx

    • Nu Bride
      May 24, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

      Thank you Sara, what an incredibly kind thing to write. You are quite right, nothing beats face-to-face interaction. You are an inspiration to me, thank you for taking the time to read, share and comment. xx

  2. Karen - SmashingTheGlass.com
    May 24, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    A brilliant piece Nova. So many quote-worthy snippets – in particular ‘Give people your LOVE don’t give them your ‘like’… but it’s so hard in our time-poor lives to not utilize this magic media called social.

    But getting the right balance between having fun on social media, and over-doing it is such a fine line.

    All my most meaningful family, friend and working relationships have very little to do with social media quips and ‘likes’ and I think that that’s the very fat line that I draw.

    Thank you Nova for a wonderfully insightful piece. And here’s a question for you – are women more guilty of ‘look down’ than men do you think?

    • Nu Bride
      May 24, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

      Ooooh, Karen, what an interesting spin to put on this topic, now you’ve really got me thinking and if I do compare how many of my friends and family use and are affected by the negative ‘look down’ impact of Facebook in particular the ratio is female heavy! Why is that? Hmmmm Food for thought and definitely something I will be exploring!

      Yes social media has huge and wonderful benefits and has added a whole new dimension to the way we work, live and interact, but you’re absolutely right, it’s the right balance that is key. Thanks Karen xx

  3. Danielle|Chic Brown Bride
    May 24, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    Love this post!! And I too, am guilty of some of those things in the video. I think it is most important to live in the moment and pay attention because you only have that moment once!

    • Nu Bride
      May 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      Absolutely right Danielle and on that note i’m about to log off! So glad you enjoyed the post, thank you for sharing xx

  4. Laura Babb
    May 29, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    So true. All of it.

  5. Erin Balfour
    May 30, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    Amazing post. Social media is as much a curse as it is a buzz. The fact we align our mood with how many likes or shares or favourites is sinister. And I know what you mean about getting the phone out to capture something rather than just enjoy it. People fear transitoriness and loss and want to contain, record, keep. Impossible dream. Experiences are abstract but we can’t cope with that any more in the age of ownership and entitlement. I sometimes think would I have taken a Polaroid of my dinner in the ’80s and rushed off to the pinboard in Asda to share it with strangers. No. Because that’s bloody weird. Social media is so odd!!! Love the post you’ve written here. Ace xx

    • Nu Bride
      May 31, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Love your comment Erin. Can I print it off and frame it? Lol! You’re quite right , when we dissect it, the actual act of social media is making us behave quite oddly. I keep having visions of your Polaroid and Asda analogy. Lol!

      But you are absolutely right, there is a huge fear of change/ loss and feeling a need to capture everything through fear of forgetting. I completely understand it, I also live it.

      The growing need for self adulation that social media commands is unhealthy and scary and certainly emphasises the importance of perspective and healthy balance to encourage positive mental health. Thanks so much for your inspiring comment Erin! X

  6. Sasha
    June 8, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    I think the great thing about humans (or at least some of them) is our ability to reflect, evaluate and then LEARN. As much as social media are hated by so many, it’s down to each and every one of us how we use this amazing invention. We can brag and rant and lose ourselves in the virtual world completely forgetting the real one. But its entirely our fault. Let’s not blame facebook or twitter or instagarm for the way we use them. I often say it’s the same as blaming religion for wars and hate and intolerance. HUMANS make wars, HUMANS hate, HUMANS are intolerant. A genius invents a wheel but find a way to roll it over another person’s neck. Maybe deliberately, maybe by accident. But is it the genius’s fault? Is it the wheel’s fault? All these fabulous new means of expressing ourselves,sharing, exchanging opinions, information, moods. Why do we have to do it the “wrong way”? But amazing thing about us humans is that we also have the ability to realize our flaws and errors. That we learn (although very slowly) from our mistakes or inexperience and try to do better next time. I believe we are all same guilty of over exaggerating on social media, racing against time or trying to win “love”and admiration from strangers. How ridiculous. But in my circle of friends and family I see this changing-to the better! People are switching off and coming back after a period of “social media holidays” and their posts are more “real”, more relevant, less frequent but more personal. So I am optimistic. It might take a bit too long but I am positive we will get there in the end ;-). Beautiful article lovely Nova. I am so proud to be (soon) related to you. And beautiful comments from your readers. You all give me hope. Now I have to run to share this piece with my facebook “friends”!! ;-) xxxx

    • Nu Bride
      June 8, 2014 at 10:12 am #

      Wow! What a fantastic comment Sasha. You make reference to so many points and have got me thinking again.

      I don’t necessarily think it is down to using social media in a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way, but about an awareness of how it impacts our emotional well being and a balance and acting on that. What feels right for one person will feel completely different to someone else.

      You’re right, we do live in a culture of blame. How we use these brilliant inventions are by choice and no-one else’s responsibility but ours .

      Thanks so much for your delicious comment Sasha. I can’t wait too!
      X Nova

  7. Sasha
    June 8, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Just noticed a missing word :”A genius invents a wheel but WE find a way to roll it over another person’s neck.” was intended ;-)

  8. Sasha
    June 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Apologies for hogging this comments page. I thought about that lovely video a lot and its truthful message-”you don’t know what you’re missing with your head glued to screen of your phone/tablet/pc”. And I totally agree. I met my fiance at a salsa class and fell in love with him because he talked to me openly and honestly and made me laugh and never pretended to be anything he wasn’t. And because he showed interest into the real me, not the photoshopped best-picture-out-of 1000- facebook version of me. But as I was making your favorite potato salad ;-) for our bbq today a different story popped into my head. A version of Gary Turk’s story that could have easily happened to my 17 year old self. It would very likely go like this: Jane is walking home from her ballroom class and sees a cute boy across the street. She is too shy to stop and chat to him. So she just blushes and feeling ridiculous, useless and embarrassed for it she speeds up to get home faster. She beats herself up about not at least trying to acknowledge the nice guy. But she always suffered from low self esteem and shyness in front of strangers, especially men. Especially cute men!;-) She logs on her facebook to check out some videos about puppies break-dancing, new trailer for another Twilight movie (number 27 titled The Dawn of the Moon After Dusk With Blood At Sunrise, Part III) or a new One Direction video for their latest single Love Me Baby Love Me More Although I Hate You…, when the cute guy’s head pop’s up on her notification board. Bit of fb snooping and Jane finds out the cute boy is a brother of her old school friend. Feeling braver shielded by facebook virtual wall and secure by her laptop screen “barrier” she sends him a msg. She writes and deletes and re-writes that one sentence for 2 hrs before sending-beauty of written talk – she can say exactly what she intends to, not too much, not too little, in carefully selected words. Jane: Hi Nick, have I seen you at High Cross this morning? I used to go to school with your sister. How is she these days?” N: Hi Jane, she’s well thanks. Don’t see her much since she’s married. Where were you walking so fast today? J: Just finished my ballroom lesson. N: I used to do gymnastics at High Cross. J: Wow gymnastics! Don’t know many guys who do that or at least admit to have done it:-). N: I try to keep it quiet in front of my mates-they would mock me too much. Not exactly “manly” activity around my lot. J: LOL. I like it, makes you stand out. N: I see you’re pretty good at ballroom, I checked out your videos and girl you have some talent! J: Thanks Nick. Lots of unattractive sweat behind it. How’s your gymnastics going? N: Don’t do it anymore but my youngest sister does. She is competing at Nationals this weekend. J: Wow, Nationals. You must be one proud brother. Would love to see it live. I admire talent of any kind. N: Would you want to come and watch the competition? It starts at 3pm this Saturday. I have some free tickets. My other sister is coming too. J: I would love to. You’re very kind to offer. N: Pick up from High Cross at 2:30? J: Deal. See you Sat….And they became an item soon after, married within 6 months and celebrate 35th wedding anniversary this year. (And Nicks little sis won an Olympic medal at London 2012) ;-). For shy socially awkward Jane and geeky Nick-The Gymnast perhaps without facebook it would go like this: J walks home from ballroom class, she sees a cute guy across the road, she smiles but being too shy she speeds up to get home faster. She runs into the guy few day later at a friends party. Nick is with his mates. He recognizes J’s cute shy smile, wants to run to her and talk to her but feels it’s not a cool thing to do. So instead he shouts across the room something manly like: “Hay babes, I saw those great legs the other day”. His mates snigger. J blushes. Feels exposed and embarrassed, wants to hide and die! N:Why were you running away from me so fast? J: Just walking home from my ballroom class. N: Ballroom? (he wants to say he is interested as he used to do gymnastics and feels maybe J and he have something in common. But the mates are watching so instead he says) “Great, I bet you look hot in the skimpy Latin ballroom dress”. His mates snigger and whistle. N want’s to say he can move too and perhaps they can chat together about how demanding dancing or gymnastics are and how fulfilling the power of art is. But mates are watching so instead he says intentionally too loud “I bet she’s bendy”. His mates clap and pat him on his shoulder for the manly comment. Nick downs his pint and walks in a self-conscious John Wayne wide-legged stride to the bar to get another round of Jeagerbombs. Jane walks away NOT looking back, thinking “Moron, all men are the same!”…And they never find out what they missed. My point is: I guess facebook/social media work both ways. We lie and pretend and photoshop and censor, get overconfident, become unrealistic version of ourselves. But some others perhaps find more healthy confidence and their cute and honest inner voices thanks to modern technology. If used carefully and wisely I believe many can benefit from it too. Although Jane and Nick and their love story are all fiction, I bet there are many real ones that happened thanks to social media. To find the right balance in exposure is probably the hardest bit. So lets look for it together.xxx

  9. Elizabeth | Bridal Musings
    July 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    Such a great, thought provoking post, Nova! Thank you for sharing.

    I’m feeling very inspired to step away from my laptop/phone and practice more mindful living. Easier said than done though! (Especially when social media is such an integral part of your job.)

    Our parent’s generation were worried we’d get square eyes from watching too much tv, well, it does seem we just can’t enough of those little square screens!

    I swing wildly between thinking the internet/social media/mobile data is both amazing and destructive. But as another commenter said above, it’s how we use technology that is the key.

    I truly hope that we can teach ourselves and the next generation to use it in a more productive, less self absorbed, mentally draining way so that we can enjoy our lives to the fullest.

    Okay…stepping away…now xx

    • Nu Bride
      July 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

      Thank you so much for your considered reply Elizabeth. I think our parents generation were spot on weren’t they! I am so pleased you were able to get something from the article and are feeling inspired to practice more mindful living. That is fantastic and makes my ‘job’ that little bit more worthwhile when I can make a positive difference.
      Much love xx Nova

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