Hello and welcome back to TMO! As I discussed in last week’s post, social media has a profound impact on mental health. In this week’s post, I want to focus on the rise of social media influencers, and the impact they have had on mental health.

The impact and pressure for ‘perfection’ is everywhere. Apps to nip and tuck our appearance, apps to get more followers and likes. People will go to extremes to be popular and the envy of others. Whilst usually inside they’re struggling.

Influencers: Just like us?

The rise of social media ‘influencers’ and lifestyle bloggers is a relatively new facet of Instagram.

Branding themselves as ‘normal people’ they CLEARLY represent the average person…if all average people had toned physiques. Which is thanks to the personal trainer and countless hours they spend in the gym. Something we all have time to do between juggling a career, kids and other commitments. Because, lest we forget, if they can do it between their busy career of posting pictures on social media, we must be able to as well.

Another element of the ‘influencer’/regular person starter pack is an endless amount of healthy meals which they forget to inform us have either been provided for them by a food prep brand, or, a personal chef. Just like the rest of us!

Furthermore, our wardrobes are all big enough to fit the tonnes of new clothes like influencers. And to top it off, like any normal person, they reside in a luxurious mansion, with 2 idyllic well behaved children and take 25 picturesque holidays a year.

Impact on us

Clearly, I’m being ironic and laughing at the situation at hand. But there is a much more serious problem that has arisen in the waking of ‘influencers’. The pressure to maintain a perfect online persona is something that most now struggle with. Whether you’re aware or not, we all feel a sense of competition over who has the most followers or gets the most likes. For most, that competition might just exist in our friendship groups or with colleagues. But to others, it’s a competition with everyone else on the platform.

It is almost impossible for us to achieve the lifestyle or the body of ‘influencers’. Without realising, they are distorting our perception of a normal human being. Making us believe that this is how we should look, what we should eat, and what we should wear.

Even when writing this post, I have bought in the idea that we are not good enough and treating their lifestyle as more superior than my own, and that I should be striving to ‘achieve’ their kind of life.

As previously discussed there has been an exponential increase in those seeking mental health treatments worldwide. And Instagram has been branded as the most ‘friendly’ of the social media sites. Yet, there seems to be a massive flaw with the image sharing platform.

In an article with the Guardian, they explore why Instagram is causing such a problem for user’s mental health: ‘The site encourages its users to present an upbeat, attractive image that others may find at best misleading and at worse harmful… Facebook demonstrates that everyone is boring and Twitter proves that everyone is awful, Instagram makes you worry that everyone is perfect – except you.’

In an interesting turn of events, the Guardian highlights how even social media outlets with the best of intentions – like Instagram- are still damaging. Uncovering how social media is extremely detrimental to our mental health

Who’s to blame?

Should we really be blaming the ‘influencers’ for the increased pressure to appear perfect? Especially in the p.c world, we live in, should we not just allow them to succeed and live their lives?

If that’s the case- who is to blame? Is it ourselves? At the end of the day, the only one putting pressure on is us. Perhaps if we were taught to celebrate difference and acceptance from a young age we would have a healthier perspective of ourselves and the world.

A large factor in the rise in mental health as a result of social media is that the users are too young to have accounts. Viewing and using social media as a child/ young adolescent is extremely damaging as it distorts their perception of the world. Many argue that the parents are to blame for allowing their children to use the sites, whereas others blame the social media sites for not having strict enough age barriers.

As previously discussed- social media has become a more ‘healthy’ environment.  Its flooded with body positivity campaigns and images yet, the minute a social media star posts a picture, users flock to criticise them for ‘promoting unrealistic body images’. Raising the question of what IS a realistic body image? Is it the 90’s supermodel size 0- or the famous Kardashian curves? If we are going to use social media to tear down others, surely we have to expect it back?

In order to celebrate and accept ourselves for who we are, we need to do the same for others. It is easy to pass the blame (like I did at the start of the post). But arguably social media and Instagram have become nasty places as a result of all of us. Instead of finding problems with other’s posts, bodies & lifestyles- social media would be a healthier place if we searched for the positives instead.

In summary…

The digital age has caused massive issues for users mental health and due to the anonymity,  it has allowed people to use it to bully unnecessarily making social media a very toxic environment. Yet, times are beginning to change.

Tell me what you think about this by leaving a comment underneath. Or, tweet me @_thatsmy0pinion and use the hashtag #tmo to continue the discussion!

I will be back for a very special post next week!