I usually schedule and write my blog posts well in advance, so I always hope I am still relevant when you finally get to read my thoughts. But despite my current feelings, I think they are important to hear at any time.
Today I woke up automatically knowing it would be a tough day. I think those of us with depression know what I’m talking about. My mind is foggy and numb, every simple task seems strenuous, and all you want to do is curl up in a ball and wait for it all to pass. Luckily I still managed to get to work and try my best, but it was very difficult to say the least. I was so tempted to just call in sick.
But even with all of this going on mentally, I randomly thought about how positive I try to keep all of my social media accounts. I want to project good vibes and positive messages to others. I want people to look at my profiles and leave feeling better. If I can help someone or make them smile even just for a second, I will feel accomplished.
My social media is very reminiscent of my times back in school when I wasn’t fully aware of my depression, but I still knew when to put up a facade. I distinctly remember countless times of being around my friends, who were laughing and chatting away, and I couldn’t even focus on anything, instead dissociating and staring blankly off into space, melancholy for no particular reason.
With recently finishing a social media marketing class, I’ve come to realize the importance of a personal brand. Unknowingly, I’ve been working on that for several months now. Social media is very public domain, although it can be so easy to spill our guts when we’re just typing away on a phone or computer screen. And even receiving sympathetic comments back from others is almost a sense of validation. Which can then lead to the annoying habit of oversharing. If you want to utilize social media as effectively as possible, treat it as if they are face-to-face interactions. What persona do you want to portray to others?
It’s all about perception. Being completely authentic on social media can be a slippery slope. It’s learning when not to post or even look at social media to avoid temptation, and when you can just be. Instead of this magical entity in mixed in both worlds of being public and private, it’s really just another place you have to keep up appearances. More like a highlight reel and less behind-the-scenes footage.
No wonder people can get mad by how fabricated social media can seem, but it’s inevitable. When we have a chance to use technology to uplift our personal images, you bet people will take advantage. They aren’t about to write captions behind Instagram pictures of their current situation or thoughts if they aren’t compatible with their “brand.” We want our brand to “advertise” us in the best way possible, making us seem worldly, fun, professional, accomplished…whatever it may be, social media allows us a new opportunity to impress others and make our lives seem as carefree and perfect as possible.
When those rare moments do occur that showcase vulnerability and honesty, I think those can be the most powerful, refreshing, and thought-provoking posts of all. It reminds us that behind the smoke and mirrors of constant adventures with friends or eventful days is a person who has struggles. We all do. It’s brave to share those dark moments. You’re breaking down a barrier you or society have built that go against the ideal standards.
I’m not talking about those people constantly complaining about petty matters or drama with others (subtweeting, as the kids call it). I’m talking about what I ultimately want to achieve with my blog. I want to help destigmatize uncomfortable topics into open discussions until they are welcome to everyday life. It might not be the greatest for my brand to admit a new prescription for higher dosage antidepressant. Or how guilty I feel considering taking a sick day off for depression. Or my inner struggle trying to accept my recent weight gain, tempting me to relapse from long progress in eating disorder recovery. Openly talking about these things is by no means universally accepted. They’re moments we usually care not to discuss because others might perceive us differently.
But the more often we avoid the tough conversations, the more uncomfortable they become, the more we push them aside in fear of acknowledging them. Thinking back to last week’s post on a similar issue of general stigma surrounding mental health, social media is a powerful tool that can either make great strides forward or backward. It’s up to us on how we choose to use it. Social media displays how much power each individual possesses in making a statement and starting a movement.that can spread within seconds.
So how we view our roles as social media users can really swing to both sides on the theoretic pendulum. Social media etiquette, such as not posting pictures drunk holding up a six-pack of beer, is necessary, but it’s just as important to just put yourself out there sometimes. To be a voice to say, “I’m not feeling okay, but that’s okay.” Those moments when I receive messages from people I might not talk to regularly (or even rarely in person) that tell me how much I have helped them. That they too struggle with similar problems. It’s hard for to fully comprehend the potential impact I may have with a few words. The littlest things are often the ones that make the biggest difference.
If you take anything away from my ramble today, realize that social media isn’t meant to be taken seriously ninety-nine percent of the time. There’s no point comparing yourself or unrealistically longing for somebody else’s most flattering angles because we all have a chapter of our stories we aren’t telling. But those who do allow exclusive excerpts of those chapters at opportune moments may turn a visually unappealing facade into a masterpiece.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie