The Power of Storytelling to Fight Social Media Depression
It is ironic that platforms that are called “social media” are the same platforms that have made us more antisocial than at any other time in the history of humankind. A study by Kasperky shows, in great detail, the negative impact that current social media platforms have on our lives, without us even noticing it. The most worrying factor is the increase of depression among frequent social media users, because the content that they are presented with is fake, photoshopped, and vastly created for the purpose of pleasing advertisers.
What were once fun platforms where people could freely express themselves, have now turned into money-grabbing powerhouses; something that is becoming more and more evident as news spreads with behind-the-scenes information of what is actually going on. Sadly, the consequences of such platforms have already left their mark on the human psyche.
The Impact of Social Media on Depression Among Users
In order to please advertisers, social media platforms depend on developing as many ways as possible to keep people engaged for long periods of time, so that they can see as many ads as possible. The more addicted the user is to the platform, the happier the advertisers become. This is achieved through addictive content and an obsession with being liked and seen, through the number of likes and followers. But the platforms aren’t the only source of the problem. Many users engage in posting digitally altered, or downright fake, images, which represent untruthful lives in an effort to receive their own money from advertisements. The result has become nothing short of chaos, lies, and distorted images of reality, which lead many users to believe that they are underachieving in their own life, resulting in depression and detachment from society as a whole.
“The likes, comments, and notifications we receive on our mobile devices through social apps create positive feelings of acceptance… Our minds are being ‘brain hacked’ by these apps and social platforms;… research and development dollars are allocated to determining how technology can stimulate the release of dopamine during product use to make us feel good about ourselves. When we are not getting this dopamine release from our apps and smartphones, we feel fear, anxiety, and loneliness. The only remedy, for some, is to get back on the device for another pleasure release.” (Darmoc, 2018)
Because of this, every user is also an easy victim for emotional contagion – the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. A study by E. Ferrara and Z. Yang found that our emotional states can easily be manipulated by both content and user interaction on social media. In other words, we can be lead to feel and believe things that we would not normally believe if we were alone with our own thoughts and not those of other users. This is one of the main reasons why mass hysteria so often occurs on social media. In many cases, against people who do not deserve such backlash. The most common side-effects that follow social media are depression, low self-esteem, cyberbullying, and the desperate need to seek approval from others – even if you don’t know them in real life.
Is It Possible to Express Yourself Online Without These Side Effects?
As we develop our understanding of new technologies and how they affect us, we also develop new platforms, which will serve the right purpose, without diminishing our individuality and our mental health. This is the beauty of human teamwork and evolution – but it can only work if the people who are developing new things are doing it for the sake of individuals and not for the sake of profit.
The development of a platform that will allow for freedom of expression through realistic portrayals of life can only be achieved if we go back to one of the most important elements of human development – storytelling.
Storytelling has been at the centre of human history since the very beginning of our kind. We have used it to pass knowledge from one generation to another, to express ourselves, to fight against dictatorships, and to establish new rights for our freedom as individuals. But stories can only achieve their true purpose if they are honest and representative of the individual.
Both psychological and literary research has shown that storytelling is a great method of developing a clear understanding of your own thoughts and a more objective way of analyzing them. Storytelling also contributes to meditation on cultural and political problems, and most importantly, helps other people who find these stories to feel more included in the world.
The team behind the phlow platform have carefully analyzed the negative effects of social media on individuals. We are determined to provide a space that is free of censorship, and also free of the obsession for likes and followers. The phlow platform focuses on the quality of the content and how it can better the phlow community, and not on who is posting the content or how many followers they have. This allows us to create an environment that is closer to reality, and that helps users to realistically express themselves and talk about the issues that concern them, without ever being subscribed to being taken advantage of for the purpose of profit.
phlow’s journals embrace our inherent ability for storytelling.
Users are free to create as many journals as they wish, and to use both visual and textual content to express their thoughts and/or their artistic creations. You can use the visual content of other community members to do so, or they can upload their own photos.
phlow’s journals will put an end to social media depression, and create an environment that values people’s opinions and mental health. For people who have suffered from depression induced by social media, phlow’s journals will allow them to use storytelling to analyze their true thoughts and the world around them, without the fear that they will be scrutinized for who they are.
As a platform, phlow casts away the competition between users, and instead brings them together to create a platform of unity, media democracy, and no censorship on free speech.
No social media platform should ever have the right to take advantage of its users for their own profit, and to disregard the destructive impact that such platforms have on mental health. The current giants of social media are slowly revealing their true intentions, which have caused millions of users to seriously think about whether or not it is worth staying in such a toxic environment. Luckily, our greatest power as users is the freedom to choose where we want to publish our ideas.
Why not join the phlow community and create your own journal?
* Darmoc, S., (2018). Marketing addiction: the dark side of gaming and social media. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 56, 4:2 https://doi-org.ezproxy.ycp.edu:8443/10.3928/02793695-20180320-01