If you think about it, for most of us millennials, social media plays a big role in our everyday lives. We keep up with family and friends by scrolling through our Facebook timeline or liking their photos on Instagram. We faithfully dedicate ourselves to keeping up our “snap streaks” with our friends on Snapchat and we watch our favorite YouTube personalities instead of watching traditional television shows.
For the modern day millennial, the constant use of social media to stay connected to those we care about is not a foreign concept, it just has always been a way of communication that has always existed.
However, have you ever considered this constant connection to people can actually burn you out? I’ve honestly never considered it was possible to get burned out on social media, but recently some popular YouTubers that I frequently watch addressed the concept of burnout to their viewing audiences.
Burnout is basically when someone has been stressed and exhausted over something for a long period of time. Over the past year, YouTube personalities such as Liza Koshy, Elle Mills and Lilly Singh have made videos addressing the fact that the pressures of being an online personality has brought increased anxiety and depression to their lives, as the pressure to be perfect was far too great. As a result, they had to quit making YouTube videos for a fixed time in order to get back into a good space mentally.
Burnout does not only affect popular internet personalities, however. I’ve noticed many of my close friends and family back at home were also making announcements on their social media accounts that they needed to take a break from being on social media in order to re-focus on themselves and to get away from the negativity that social media always seems to bring.
Once I saw that some of my favorite people online had to take a break from the Internet in order to take care of their mental health, it made me ask the question: at what cost are we using social media? If it just makes people anxious and depressed, why do people use it and what about social media makes us feel this way?
The conclusion I have come to is whether you’re an online celebrity or if you’re just the average everyday person, social media is the central gathering place for comparison. We see everyone’s highlight reels and best moments, and this makes us feel like our lives aren’t as great as theirs. However, what we don’t realize is that we don’t see the normal everyday moments that everyone experiences. Social media ultimately curates a perfect image of someone’s imperfect life.
There’s this constant expectation that every day needs to be greater than the last, and that we constantly need to be doing new and different things. However, this expectation is extremely hard to achieve, and when we can’t achieve or match everyone else’s highlights, then we become depressed and anxious trying to figure out what we need to do in order to reach this unattainable expectation. Then, this heightened anxiety and depression leads us into full-blown burnout.
As you can imagine, this is a lot of pressure we put on ourselves every day, many times not even noticing we are doing it. With subconsciously worrying about how many likes, comments and retweets we get, I think we often forget to be ourselves online and to use social media as a fun pastime, rather than a popularity contest.
Now, don’t get me wrong -- I’m not suggesting that you delete all of your social media profiles and throw your phone away and live in a cabin in the woods. I’m just merely suggesting that being aware of social media burnout and that it can gravely impact your mental health is important, as you can pay closer attention to how you are feeling when you are on social media and you can monitor your use accordingly.
By simply being knowledgeable that no one has a perfect life, no matter what they show online, it can help protect your mental health and shield you from getting burned out.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily of The Torch.