How can we maintain our mental wellbeing when on social media?
A talk held on by Youth Corps Singapore aimed to answer that.
Social media has become a part of our daily routines for a lot of us. Despite its many positives, there can also be unwanted consequences that come with living our lives online that could take a toll on our mental health.
On Saturday (Oct 9), Youth Corps Singapore held a livestream to talk about mental health in the age of social media.
The talk featured Minister-of-State Mr Alvin Tan, SEA Games gold medallist Constance Lien, The Smart Local host Fauzi Aziz and Twitter Singapore’s Head of Public Policy & Philanthropy, Amanda Ang.
Over the course of an hour, they talked about the pressures of social media, how to interact with others online and creating a positive digital footprint.
The pressures of social media
At the start of the talk, Constance mentioned how joining social media from a young age had caused her to compare how she looked to the girls on her feed.
“I started to realise that the content I was seeing on a daily basis was subconsciously shaping what I thought was normal and made it a standard I had to reach,” she shared.
“The core of what can make social media so bad is comparison. It’s linked to validation and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t post things for validation sometimes. Oftentimes we fall into that trap.”
Amanda echoed the sentiment, sharing some statistics Twitter had.
“From January 2020 to August 2021, Singapore saw 58,000 tweets related to mental health. People are coming on to share their experiences and others who have gone through these experiences are sharing advice.
“It’s not all positive but there’s value. The more we have these conversations, the more we create empathy and the more we can support each other.” she stated.
Interacting with others online
The four panelists also spoke about how interacting with others is harder online. Amanda added online interactions could be just as damaging and emotional as real life conversations.
Mr Tan said that he had learned how his response to comments mattered as much as the comments themselves.
He mentioned how being emotional in your responses could lead to potentially poor word choices or defensive language and how a response could shift the tone of a negative conversation.
“Calm down, rationalise a bit. And then you respond,” he said, when sharing about the way he usually responds to hate comments.
Fauzi added that perspective mattered as well. “Everyone has their own use for social media and when people understand that, I think they’ll have a better relationship with it,” he said.
Creating a positive digital footprint
When speaking about their digital footprint and how much time they spent online, all four speakers had different experiences and methods.
Constance spoke how she had begun to do ‘social media detoxes’ — for example, deleting her social media applications for a day — when it got overwhelming and how it had drastically improved her mental health and approach to social media.
“When I first did a detox, I felt so uncomfortable and that showed me how addicted I was to that validation, and how it had become a part of my routine,” she admitted.
“Whenever I am aware that I am looking at the numbers and the comments, I remind myself that it’s okay to take a break from social media,” Fauzi shared, saying how easy it was to fixate on the statistics of social media.
“I like when I can be myself in the moment, without letting social media dictate how I live my life.”
When wrapping up, Mr Tan spoke on ways youths could find support online: “If you have a bit of a following, however small, let’s try to counteract these kinds of divisive content… Peer to peer support is incredibly important and if folks want to join us, you can just drop YCS a message on Messenger and we’d be more than happy to give you our time and energy.”
Fauzi added: “I think I just hope that youths are more discerning of what they consume on social media. They are the ones that are going to be crafting the social landscape and they have the power to shape how we take conversations on social media.”
If you are looking for more mental well-being resources, check out Youthopia’s resource page with everything from mental health self-assessments to tips for coping with challenging seasons in life.