By: Natalie Andrewski
When the social media aspect of the internet began to develop with outlets such as Myspace and Tumblr, the issues surrounding online bullying began to become the focus of parents and schools alike. People could hide behind the anonymity of fake accounts to perpetuate their cruel comments and opinions. These technological insults initially seemed innocent and without consequences, but the reality of this issue has come to fruition with “cyberbullying strongly related suicidal ideation in comparison with traditional bullying”. On a less severe note, it has been determined that overall the explosion of platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook that rely highly on the factor of “likes” and “comments”, has led to a sadder society. The ideas of instant gratification and the hunger for constant positive feedback have become overwhelming triggers within our daily lives. It has been found that these ideas “can lead users to constantly compare themselves to others and think less of their own lives, potentially leading to negative feelings such as jealousy or low self esteem”.
I recently read the book The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover by M.D. Robert Lustig, in which the author discusses why our society has gradually become more and more (reportedly in the use of anti-depressants and increase in the obesity epidemic) unhappy over the years. He uses a scientific approach to conceptualize the chemical imbalances the growing majority of our society faces. Rather than stimulating our serotonin reuptake (elongated contentment), we (as a nation) are continuously utilizing our dopamine reward pathways through the stimulation of sugar, social media, and other instantly gratifying triggers. Our ability to achieve high peaks of temporary and instantaneous happiness has led us to be continuously searching for the next peak, but does this lead to lower and lower valleys between each peak?
As the social media craze continues to captivate our nation, organizations and individuals are attempting to counter our current internet climate through identifying ways in which to achieve inner-happiness and enforce self-care. My best friend Brynnen recently launched the “Self-Care Project” through an Instagram account, as well as a blog linked to the Instagram account. Her project’s mission is to interview athletes, activists, and other inspirational people about their struggles, as well as successes, involving their journey with mental and physical health. After struggling with severe depression, Brynnen hopes to use social media for good by perpetuating the message of positive self-care techniques and creating a supportive community for those struggling with their holistic health. She describes her goal within the project as to “share with you that we all struggle, but we all have ways to get through it to maintain our mental health”. Follow Brynnen’s project @selfcareprojects for more information!
“Suicide.” Megan Meier Foundation. Cyberbullying.
Fuller , Kristen. “Are We Allowing Social Media to Dictate Our Happiness?” Psychology Today,
Beierle, Brynnen. The Self Care Project, theselfcareproject.org/.