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My Mental Health Story, Your Lessons

mental-health

My Mental Health Story, Your Lessons

A few days after returning to Nigeria from a very refreshing vacation, I received an invitation to attend an event organized by the U.S. Embassy Abuja, in collaboration with Jela’s Development Initiatives in celebration of World Mental Health Day 2022. This event was going to feature the screening of a documentary “The Social Dilemma”, followed by a panel discussion on how technology is impacting our mental health.

Before I continue, are you a consumer of content or a producer of same? Do you ever have guilty emotions because the digital space is getting more time than your other engagements- family time, work, school activities or even your side hustle? 😀 Do you think these sophisticated gadgets and applications have an impact on your mental health? Do you understand why you spend so much time surfing the internet even when you do not want to? After reading this article and knowing what I learnt from that event, you will be charged to take informed decisions and also take action to maintain your mental stability.

So experts have said that the social media platform is built on the basis of the psychological analogy called “the positive intermittent reinforcement”. This comes in the form of rewards delivered on a schedule that seems random to the users but is designed to keep them active on the platform for longer a period. This carefully planned activities or things of your interest, are intentionally dished out to the user as prompts which keeps them glued to their screen. The adverse effect of these on mental health becomes the problem of the user and not that of the developer.

Technology experts have agreed that the IT space has moved from being a Tool-based technology to an Emotional-draining technology. The former was meant to enhance human capacities but it seems to be a more profitable venture for a few at the detriment of many. With computer processing time growing drastically, social media users have become victims of entrepreneurial and economic failures. Where did we get it wrong? At what time did the founders of these media get it wrong? Do content creators have a role to play as well with the production of addictive, persuasive and destructive messages?

So how does social media affect our mental health? It has made us to live our lives around the perception of perfection. This is because everything portrayed on social media including pictures, fashion, religion, family looks perfect. Unfulfilled desires of perfection especially from imperfect people has added to the instability of their mental health; sometimes unknown to the individual.

Similarly, the gory messages of killings, heightened insecurity, economic failures which we view daily heightens our emotional stress, and brings about health challenges. The unverifiable news which trends on our social media space every day, causes terrible harm to people. Our children and younger ones are not spared from these effects as they have as much usage of the Social media space as adults.

We are on a journey of no return as technology has come to stay. So how best can we manage our mental health while maximizing the benefits thereof? Experts have suggested the following:

  1. Will power: Identify what social media platforms that are highly beneficial to you and engage there wisely.
  2. Time off device: Learn to live with these devices. This could involve setting time for usage and time off. Same goes to children and young people to allow more time for studying and self-development
  3. Never click on all recommendations suggested for you by these platforms. Learn to always choose and define the content you consume.
  4. No notification: Turn off all notifications from your devices to avoid unnecessary distractions
  5. Create adaptation rules like no devices at home/bedroom
  6. Create more advocacy programs to ensure people are aware of the impact of the social media space on their well-being.
  7. Government regulations should be tailored to constructively monitor and guide the operations within the social media space.

In summary, we all have a role to play in protecting our mental health and that of those around us. When you think of what will happen

  • when children lose their childhood because of social media addiction
  • when our educational system and research becomes mundane
  • when people believe more conspiracy theories than well-researched fact
  • when human interactions go extinct
  • when wars begin and faceless individuals begin to run our economic systems and government,

Then your only option will be to act now. Let us make a conscious effort to protect humanity and ourselves.

 

 

Reference video: “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix

 

2000 1125 Didi Idang
6 Comments
  • Thank you for this, Didi.
    Worth reading with some new insights. We could all be preys to this new normal, life altering reality, if we are not aware of its negative impacts. Thank you again.

  • Reading your article reiterated the points we discussed about after watching the movie. Thank you for articulating it so clearly and this makes for an easy share especially to others who may not have the opportunity to watch ‘Social Dilemma’ on Netflix. We all need to be deliberate about caring for our mental health and others as well especially our young ones. Thank you Didi! Awesome read

  • Fr. Thaddeus Clement Etim

    This is very timely and important! People are becoming more discontent in their marriage and other relationships, their jobs, achievements, etc., and are afraid because of the contents they feed their minds on from the social media. When life is a function of comparison, it becomes boring, unsatisfactory and unfulfilled. And those who are victims may not be aware of the remote cause. That’s why I’m in support of creating awareness for better life analysis. Thank you, Didi for this article of awareness.

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