CW: Diet Culture
I think it is safe to say that my relationship with social media is very complicated. Like everything in life, it is not perfect. It can be delightful, but also has a very detrimental side. Lockdown has especially increased the prominence of social media in our lives. It is a way to stay connected to our loved ones and the events of the world, but we cannot ignore its toxic nature.
It would be naive of me to overlook how damaging social media can be, particularly over the course of lockdown. My mental health has not been the best over the past few months, and being ripped away from a sense of normality definitely took its toll on me. It took a while to adjust to this new way of living, and with the added weight of social media, it has been a nightmare. In particular, there has been a consistent promotion of weight loss products. As someone who has always been sensitive and conscious about this topic, it has been dreadful seeing diet shakes and pills being shoved in my face. It is despicable that brands are using this period of time to capitalise on people’s insecurities, without consideration for their wellbeing. Even being on TikTok, a seemingly light-hearted platform, has exposed me to tips for quick weight loss. Why is this the case when our main priority should be surviving a global pandemic and practising self care? Why can’t we use lockdown to find peace in ourselves and our bodies, rather than being forced to compare ourselves to others?
The consistent posts of outings and socialising has highlighted a divide between people at the moment: those who are happy to try and return to a sense of normality, and others who still feel safer staying indoors and only going out when necessary. I definitely fall into the latter category; even the need to go to work makes me anxious. Of course, I am pleased for people who feel comfortable going out and making use of services that are open again, however I cannot help feeling jealous and weary. Why do people feel it is right to ignore social distancing guidelines and then post about it online? Why do they get to selfishly enjoy themselves, whilst those who are still being cautious or are vulnerable are confined to their homes? But in that vein, I am glad to see who I want to associate myself with, and to see people for who they truly are.
However, I cannot deny that I have found social media to be very educational recently, as well as being a very useful tool. It has been a way for us to stay connected to our loved ones, no matter how far away they may be. Social media has made lockdown more tolerable, and allowed us to communicate and feel part of a virtual community. Whether we are connecting over our favourite singers on Twitter, or sharing memes on TikTok, it has allowed us to escape the horrors of coronavirus. Aside from the trivial aspects, I do not think I am the only one to say that social media is a source of daily news. It has allowed for news to be more accessible, with threads on Twitter breaking down news stories and events around the world. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that social media has taught me a lot.
The internet is a wondrous, complex place. Of course it can be wholesome, but it is sometimes difficult to ignore its toxic nature.