With the recent release of ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix, we have seen a widespread trend in people taking digital breaks from their social platforms and phones, which is great and something we should all consider once in a while - but is it really all doom and gloom?
We are all on our devices a whole lot more, and I mean A LOT, but as a society we have never been more connected and, considering the unprecedented time that is 2020, isn’t that a good thing?
This year we have found ourselves in a situation we could never have predicted, isolated in our own homes, staying away from family, friends and colleagues in a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Although this may be taking care of our physical health, this has had a detrimental effect on our mental health, according to Mind.org more than half of adults and two thirds of young people have said their mental health has gotten worse during the period of lockdown restrictions. Boredom has been a major problem in young people and loneliness has been a key contributor to poor mental health.
It could be said that the release of ‘The Social Dilemma’ could not have come at a worse time and, instead of feeling guilty or pressured to get off our devices, perhaps to some of us they have become our lifeline and one connection to the outside world.
This is not to mention the huge impact social media has had on not just our personal lives but for global movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo - whereby millions of people across different walks of life come together to stand against a particular issue, raise awareness and speak out / share their own experiences.
It was reported that the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag had been used around 47.8million times on Twitter from May 26th to June 27th - in a matter of just a month the outreach, inclusion and awareness of systematic racism soared and encouraged individuals and organisations to take action.
And it doesn't stop there, from gender equality to environmental activism, social media has very much become a platform for young people to understand and navigate global issues.
So, instead of pressuring ourselves, perhaps we should look at the benefits they have brought us recently:
- Video calling: Now, more than ever, the ability to pick up the phone/open your laptop and see the face of a loved one, friend or even annoying colleague has meant more to us than we could give credit for. From virtual quizzes to quick catch ups, group calls to first dates, video calling has kept us connected in a world of isolation.
- Social media: Social media does have its own affects on our mental health and it's so important we’re aware of its dangers - but it can have it’s positives. As much as we can pick up the phone to our nearest and dearest, there are some more distant connections we may not always speak to but like to stay connected to. Throughout lockdown it's been great being able to see what our friends and family have been up to, share experiences and offer/receive words of support when times are tough. It’s also a great reminder that we are not alone in this experience and how easy it can be to reach out at times we do feel isolated, whether through messaging, communal groups/pages, etc.
- Apps: From meditation to gaming, fitness to learning a language - the apps on our phone have offered entertainment, education and distraction at times we have been our most bored, anxious and lonely. There really is an app for everything out there, whether to boost productivity, escape the real world, gather our own thoughts or simply shop for our winter wardrobe
It’s so important to be mindful of digital overdose, taking time away from our devices and being in the moment but it’s also just as important to acknowledge we’re in very strange times, and we should not feel pressured nor guilty for being on our devices more than usual.
As long as we acknowledge when it is becoming ‘too much’, seek help when our mental health is impacted and talk to friends and family...