Thursday, 23 August 2018

Like me

There’s so much depression about these days, so much anxiety and so many different mental health issues. I’m pretty sure it’s getting worse, and I’m pretty sure is down to the rise of social media. Everyone has it in some form or another, we’re either on Facebook, tweeting, posting on insta or creating Snapchat stories of our day and all of these posts have pretty much one aim; to be liked, to get attention.

I grew up in an era when that pressure just didn’t exist. I had to come out of my house and walk 5 minutes just to get to the phone box which could put me in contact with one person, if he or she was home! Now you can instantly get a ‘Look at my breakfast’ post out to 700 ‘friends’ in about 4 seconds.

School was our ‘social’ time growing up and the factory floor when we left. I had my best friends and occasionally a girlfriend and that was my circle, my entire world. If you fucked up it was quite possible to do it anonymously and if you did well or accomplished anything it was your family and close friends that got you through or celebrated with you. It was them that asked if you’re ok.There just wasn’t the pressure and there wasn’t the judgement that an opinion aired to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people can create.

I’d  go down the pub to make a dick of myself, I was pretty good at it to be fair! (Yeah, still am, ok...) If i acted up or was out of order I’d be told, or barred, or hit and I’d wake up the next day with lessons learned. I’d have possibly upset 3 or 4 people depending on my levels of chaos! Being drunk in charge of a modern phone is a nuclear bomb in comparison, it’s so easy to post something upsetting that your circle of hundreds, all family and friends included, have instant access to. It’s so easy to be judged, for opinions to be formed. Just the ability to text brought about chaos and regret, now you can snap embarrassing pics, tweet drunk abuse, check in to a club at 3 a.m and lose your job by 8 the same day.  It’s a minefield.

Two young men killed themselves in my hometown last week. Two life’s, both barely formed and hardly lived were over before they had even had the chance to really begin. These lads were both 21... it’s just ridiculous and so so sad that taking their own life became a viable option for them. How have we come to this?

I see friends taking a break from Facebook on a regular basis, that’s pretty much the only platform I use and it happens all the time. Why would you need a break if there was no pressure involved. Me personally I try and just post positivity, try and keep it light, try to make a friend smile. There seems to be a much darker side though with people craving attention and acceptance through it. That’s dangerous if nobody responds then do they think no one cares?

If it’s not fun, if it’s not an enjoyable way of keeping in contact with people you don’t see regularly then what is its point. Social media is clearly addictive, it’s clearly affecting lives in a negative way. If it’s affecting you this way then get away! Take a week off, leave your phone at home and go for a walk. We’re all guilty of spending too much time on our phones and I just hope there’s a way through it.

We certainly can’t go back to the times before so maybe it’s time to tame the beast. Set up a school subject teaching the next generation how to deal with the pressures inherent. Set restrictions for our kids and make the owners, these multi billionaires, accept a bit of the responsibility they try to project onto us users.

There’s no help from the government these days on any mental heath issues so maybe we just need to help each other more. The next time you scroll past a needy or pleady  post from a friend maybe just check in on them, send a private message so it doesn’t pander to the publicity seeker and just ask: Are you ok mate?