I sometimes think of the ego as some grotesque, ravenous beast prowling somewhere in the dark recesses of our minds. It demands nourishment, and all too often it extends its rancid, long fingered talons towards us, expecting our compliance. Yet, it is never appeased long enough before the temptation to feed it just one last scrap triggers the cycle once more. Simply put, the egocentric hysteria that seems to have gripped society perplexes me. With the ground breaking pandemonium that is social media, I find that it concerning that it is becoming normalised to publicise every minute thought that materialises in our minds on a daily basis.
That it is has been rendered commendable to rummage through the haphazard catalogue of our memories to find some highlight of the days monotonous proceedings is a curious thing. The pessimist in me feels that an introvert who attempts to penetrate this extroverted focused activity is hopelessly naive; to do so is akin to a wildebeest calf scampering into a lion’s den and expecting any other outcome than to become their next meal. However, perhaps social media’s greatest defect is its often false representation of the world in which we live in. Like a film that emotionally resonates with you long after the credits have rolled, social technology can have a similar effect on people who suffer with depression. The major difference being the complete lack of ending credits or anything else to signify that it is time to return to the real world. Instead, this illusory world interlaces itself with what we interpret as the reality until it is near impossible to discern one from the other.
The result of all this is an unsettling distortion in the way in which someone with a mental illness perceives life. They scroll through their Facebook feed and begin to believe that the sea of untroubled and carefree faces confronting them is representative of what existence means for the vast majority of people. This in turn leads them to engender feelings of envy and self loathing, as they do not understand why such bliss is denied to them, even if what they desire is in fact nothing more than a fictional story of someone else’s making. This, of course, is rooted in the irrational nature of mental illness and only ever succeeds in toppling any remnant of self confidence an individual may have previously had.
Of course, I acknowledge that I am guilty of caving in to my own egocentricity by writing this blog. While I like to think that I am doing it for altruistic reasons, I do not deny that I get a misplaced sense of my own importance as I stand upon this pedestal embellished with ornately placed carvings of my own personal ‘highlights’. Obviously it would be nonsensical to suggest that social media is this all pervading evil that has no benefit for our future. There is room for acceptance that like it or not, this is the way the modern world functions. It is, after all, because of this technology that I am able to have a voice in which I can express myself!
Perhaps then, it is wise to exercise caution when it comes to attempting to integrate social media into our lives. Yes, it is a staple mark of the time in which we live, but that does not mean that it has to encompass every aspect of life itself. In the past, I have bought into these unreliable narrations created by others. It is only by limiting the amount of time I spend using social media and by going out and doing what gives me personal satisfaction, I am beginning to see these ‘highlights’ for what they really are – a projection of a life that is idealistic in nature, yet unattainable in practice.
Emotional support helplines:
Samaritans :116 123
Rethink Mental Illness advice line 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 09:30-16:00; local rate)
Sane Line:0845 767 8000
Mind also has a useful guide of support and services, which can be found by clicking the link right here