Social Media vs. Wellbeing [Check-in 2021]

This article was written by our Youth Advisory Committee member, Marta, as part of a series of articles to promote the 2021 Coolminds Summer Check-In, “Art with Heart: Exploring Mental Health Through Creativity and Self-Expression”. This one-day event will take place on August 14th (Saturday). To find out more and sign up, please visit our event page here: 

In the digital age, it is impossible to withdraw from using the internet and social media – each of us, especially the young people, do it daily, spending a significant amount of the day connected to the network. Besides obvious advantages it provides, there are also certain well being-related dangers it may lead to if used improperly. 

One of the things that is important to realize is that wellbeing is not only what we do externally, such as meeting with people, having leisure time or eating healthy, but a big part of the process involves what happens internally – it is important to be aware of what  we consume with our minds, what we let ourselves react to, or what kind of content we associate with our daily routines. 

The content we see has an enormous impact on our perception of the world, as it can shape our understanding of the course of events or even people, and since oftentimes the media is the only resource we can use to get our information about certain events, the influential power is even bigger. 

For example, if we constantly hear about social unrest happening around the world and we are shown catastrophes and natural disasters taking place everywhere, it is easy to start thinking that such chaos is the norm, and it might make us afraid of our own future and place of residence if we are influenced by the negativity. With the media often minimizing the reporting of  positive news, it is easy to get lost in a negative loop, losing hope that anything but a catastrophe is possible. 

Since the human mind is easily affected by such triggers, if we can’t stop receiving bad information, we should at least try to balance it out with positivity, keeping ourselves in check and making sure that we are not forgetting about the good. 

However, finding positive content may be hard to find, especially since it seems that there is much less of it in comparison to its darker counterpart. I have been lucky enough to follow several internet personalities and websites which keep my negative emotions in check and inspire me to focus on happiness.

One of the most inspiring people I know is Jay Shetty, an English author, former monk and storyteller, whose purpose in life is to shift perspectives and make people realize that there is so much more to life than what we see on the screen. He preaches ideas of self-love, self-awareness, empathy and gratitude, helping many people find their true happiness. Shetty became a monk at the age of 21 and, after returning to the “normal world”, shares the wisdom he learned from his experiences with the wider community. It is truly refreshing to get to know his unique perspective on life and start looking at things differently. 

Gratitude wasn’t just a concept, it boosted my immune system, mood and quality of sleep. Mastering the mind didn’t just make me feel calm, it helped me manage negativity and overcome overthinking. Discipline wasn’t joyless, it was a meaningful and powerful force to make an impact. Meditation wasn’t just a practice, it gave me clarity, confidence and focus. Empathy didn’t just apply to monks, it improved all my relationships. Mindfulness wasn’t just a tool, it was a way of life,” he writes on his website, summarizing his wellbeing journey and life philosophy. What I enjoy about him is that despite spending a considerable  amount of his time in a monastery, far away from civilization, he is not out of touch with reality and he recognizes the modern pressures that affect people, making sure that his lessons are relatable and up to date.

The second social media personality who has had a huge impact on my mental wellbeing is an entrepreneur, Gary Vee,  who, despite having more business-related content, seems to be a great communicator and a reader of humans. His leading philosophy includes gratitude and empathy, two things that are often forgotten about in the chaos we live in. 

Listening to these people, as well as focusing on researching good news, helps me with realizing that there is still a lot of good in the world and so many great things keep happening. For instance, despite the negative effects of COVID-19, 2020 was also the year in which pandas officially stopped being endangered, rainforests in Indonesia were preserved at the fastest rate in decades and space travel and discoveries thrived. Although sometimes it is difficult to feel grateful for what seems to be happening in the world, it is important to remind ourselves that what we see is not all there is, and what we think is just a single perspective rather than an unchangeable truth. If we come to a realization that positivity and negativity are just a point of view and learn to look for the good in every situation, we will be surprised by how our lives will change. For me, such lessons led me to find harmony and necessary balance within me, unshakable by any external turmoil – I understand that the world is what I make it and how I see it, and I chose to see it as a beautiful place.