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Maintaining your sanity and fostering mental health on social media

Mental health is a subtle issue these days. I can easily guestimate that most people suffer from mental health daily as compared to any disease in the entire world. This is even compounded more because of the internet and its content. Today, the internet is faster and getting cheaper ever so increasingly. Our interactions there are also increasing. Mental health and sanity coming out of the internet will be a major thing for counselors in the short term and medium term.

A few days ago, I saw an interesting photo on social media. It was a photo depicting the four horsemen in the Bible at the end times. These horses represented war, famine, pestilence and death. The artist however wanted to represent something that is increasingly becoming notorious in our societies. It is the idea that if people do not agree with you, you label what they are saying as “misinformation”.

Therefore the artist added a fourth horse and labeled it “misinformation”. I quickly got what the graphic represented and reposted it. A couple of days later, someone who was a “Friend” on Facebook called me out on “Changing the word of God”. We went back and forth for over three hours and the guy just wouldn’t budge, neither would I. When I finally blocked him, there was a flood of peace that just entered my life that Sunday.

I learnt my lesson that day. My mental health and sanity can easily be affected by my engagements on social media. You see, we all practically live on the internet these days. We are social animals and the person who had an idea of digitizing our social interactions has hit a major jackpot. Nearly all social media platforms not only provide people with an opportunity to have an opinion, but also to comment on other’s opinions.

My mental health and sanity can easily be affected by my engagements on social media”

Lawrence namale

Values

When I was fighting with that stranger or Facebook ‘Friend’, the both of us were standing on what we believed. I have my values and so does that former Facebook ‘Friend’. It is very difficult for your values to be challenged and you just stay calm, saying nothing. If you believe in abortion and someone comes to challenge it, you will fight back. As such, our lives are daily challenged on the position of our values through social media.

You want to go to sleep in the night knowing that your values were well defended and they are still intact. In the mix of all that, you realize that you are dealing with different types of people and also different types of values that you hold. Here are the major areas where we hold our values, traditions and beliefs dear.

1. Politics

It is amazing how in each country in the world, there is a wedge among the people based on political affiliations. What I have realized seemingly is that education and intelligence is not important in this arena. You will find a professor of science look so stupid in their political opinion because they just don’t think. Engaging with such a person can be a burden. It can lead to serious mental health problems if you are not careful.

2. Religion

I have already talked about this. Believers are confronted daily by Atheists. Atheists are confronted by believers. Some people are so much in love with their “man of God” or “Woman of God” that they can’t think for themselves. You do not want to be caught in the crosshairs of religious fanatics. If you are not careful, engaging with these folk can have some serious mental health issues on you.

3. Sports

One word sums this up. Arsenal. Believe me, those Arsenal fans suffer. However, on the flip side, the fans whose teams are excelling not only find joy in that fact, but their joy is made complete by trolling Arsenal fans. It’s not just in the English Premiership. It is in other sports disciplines as well. Believe me, as we speak, very many sports fans are having serious mental health issues which are being compounded by trolling, memes, quotes and deliberate affront on social media. It’s a ticking time bomb.

4. Lifestyle

Young people love to compete on fashion. Instagram is where this is happening. You want the best filter for your photo. You want your behind to be the roundest, the cutest and the most proportionate. Only to find that a few scrolls down, there is someone else ‘breaking the internet’ with their body. It is a serious mental health issue that reflects on identity.

As such, on the internet, you find different types of people that you will interact with. These, if you are not careful, will detrimentally affect your mental health and your sanity.

Trolls: They generate pleasure at the expense of others, mostly targeting what you hold dear—your values.

Idiots: They know so little or maybe nothing about a subject but they are the loudest on the internet

Idlers: They have no values of their own but want to take on other people’s values

Fanatics: Mostly in sports and religion. They excel in publishing their success but also over publishing the failures of their enemies

Zealots: They believe it is their way of the highway. Cannot accommodate other people’s ideas even if they are proven that they are wrong.

Believe me, you do not want to spend half your time with any one of this bunch. So what do we do to maintain our sanity and foster or mental health? Four simple things that we ignore daily.

1. Block:

Learn to block people off your social media pages, especially the 5 types above. Remember, your mental health is affected stealthily and these guys do that every minute

2. Ignore:

If you have grown mental toughness well enough, you are able to ignore some people. In other words, don’t engage ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS NOT ON YOUR PAGE.

3. Sanitize:

Occasionally, go through your social media pages and disengage people that don’t represent your values, and only follow those who do. Realize that large numbers are not the real estate in social media. Only the right qualities of people are. It is good for your mental health

4. Rest:

Learn to either schedule your time online, or completely take a break out of it. Some people get off social media for a week, a moth or two. It helps them. The more you are on social media, the more you increase the chances of messing up your mental health.

Well, I can say that apart from the negatives we experience, the internet is a great place to be at if you know what you are looking for. Enjoy the ride.

Lawrence Namale is a Purpose Coach with Life Signatures.

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