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  • Writer's pictureSharan Velauthan

Is Social Media Ruining Your Life? A COVID-19 Perspective.

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

COVID-19 has taken the entire world by storm. From a reduction in social events and weddings (damn, I miss wedding cake!) to an increase in unemployment, domestic abuse and suicide rates. It has also increased the use of social media, which in turn has affected our mental health.

The setup

This article isn't a self-help guide or a guide backed by statistics. But a viewpoint from one individual from what I have witnessed over this year. At the beginning of 2020, I was on a roll. I just returned from a holiday in Sri Lanka, fresh from the salty beaches, isso vadais and mums chicken curry. In 2019 I co-founded a sustainability project which was featured in the Herald Sun and won an award.

I had continued my push for mental health awareness through campaigns such as #isurvive and set to take the stage as a TEDx speaker. I was a People and Brand Consultant at an amazing firm; look I could go on, the fact is I was doing great, I was achieving, both emotionally and financially. Social media had and still does give me an opportunity to put my voice out there, connect with like-minded people and achieve more than I could possibly imagine in just 9 months. So I held on to it, to continue speaking for things I believe in.

An Absolute High

Don't get me wrong, social media is great. You get to connect with friends and family, follow delicious food pages and breathtaking travel pages. However, everything in excess and no control leads to an overdose. But let's get to the juicy OD bits later. So, I was on an absolute high. Working as a consultant, TEDx speaker, mental health advocate, last semester of my Masters. What could go wrong? I was set up for success. Right?... Wrong!

A little thing called COVID-19 happened. I was in shock. So what did I do? *cue superhero music*, social media to the rescue. I held onto that bad boy like I had nothing to lose. I started a highly successful live show on Instagram called 'Going Live for Kindness'. I kept hearing that I started the live-stravaganza on Instagram in Sri Lanka. I'll take it.

Show art: Dhyresh Mendis

The show was amazing. I spoke and connected with incredible people learning so much about important topics such as toxic relationships, gender discrimination, domestic abuse, mental health and self-care, and more. I started with having a chat with two of my friends, and it moved to have a conversation with 6 people, every day. Every day, for close to 50 days. Imagine having heavy conversations with people for around 5 hours, making sure I am a good host and do my research on each participant, and work on the marketing material for the rest of the day. I was waking up at 9 am for classes and going to sleep around 3 am after the live shows and Instagram updates. I know what you're thinking, I kind of set myself up for a massive bad burn out by not pacing myself. And that's true. Completely true. However, I learnt so much more that I did not see. And it's this:

Self-care has become - "prove to people you are productive during times they are not"

The Overdose

I repeat, social media is not a bad place. But you can make it one if you aren't careful. I overdosed, I depended on social media because it always made me happy. Why wouldn't something that makes me happy, do it again? I lost 3 jobs, staying at home was affecting my mental health due to an unhealthy living situation, so social media was my safe place.

Or so I thought it was. Here is a statistic for you, if you think about it, people are smiling a 100% of the time on social media. During a time of a pandemic, the politics of self-care took its place. Everyone started talking about being more productive, making use of this time to "self-reflect" and more of this social media BS. I'm sure it was coming from a good place, or at least I hope so. But I didn't follow my own advice, I didn't do nothing, I tried to hop on board another project and do everything through this live show. I fell, and I fell hard.

I started to go into bad depressive bouts where at one point didn't eat for 3 days. I started to experience excruciating panic attacks again and decided to end my relationship too (that's a whole other blog folks). The point is, it was bad, really bad. I started talking to my university therapist again and had a friend on the phone with me pretty much the whole day, so I would not do anything I would regret and push towards the finish line in terms of my Masters.

The live show was so successful I started to reach more people and I was incredibly grateful. But obviously, you can't trust people on the internet, right? So while reaching more people, more people started to question who I was, did I mean what I said, or blatantly attacked me for the sake of attacking. From racial slurs to bringing my single mum into the picture, it was tough. Because I started to believe it.

I started to believe that I was not a good person.

"Severe psychological distress"

"Psychological distress is a state of emotional suffering associated with stressors and demands that are difficult to cope with in daily life." That was my diagnoses. Reading that on a piece of paper shook me to my core. "Emotional suffering"? Me? I was on a high. But just like every high, they end. It was also a firm reminder to do nothing.

I am not a bad person, I did not have bad intent, and other peoples perceptions should not affect me. But damn, was it hard. It was hard to listen to myself whilst being on social media. And so, with two Instagram stories under my highlight "brb", I left. And it has been the best decision. I started reading books (I thought books were useless, don't hate me I read now), potted a plant, learnt to cook delicious chicken curry, and tried a bunch of new things that I would rather keep private.

Find more than one happy place. All my eggs were in one basket with social media. Now, I have my plant, my books, the sun, an occasional TV show, social media, AND this blog :) Social media can be a beautiful place, it allowed us to stay connected during COVID-19, but don't let it be the source of your unhappiness, don't overdose.

7 Lessons

  1. Take breaks - Doing nothing is doing something

  2. People WILL judge you - Know your worth and what you stand for

  3. Find more than one happy thing - Don't put all your eggs in one basket

  4. Read a book that you love - For me, The Alchemist changed my perspective on life

  5. Audit your social media like you would your life - A person's happiness does not equate to yours

  6. Speak to someone - Have that person/s that you can talk to about anything no matter what

  7. You. Are. Enough. - Everything that you are now is enough. Don't let anyone make you think otherwise.

To end, lions don't lose sleep over the opinions of sheep. If you would like to follow my journey of stumbling and recovering like a boss, follow my Instagram.

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