MENTAL HELATH: SOCIAL MEDIA - LOVE & HATE

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A few years ago I ran a digital agency up in London for the major record labels. At that point I would of told you social media was amazing and a godsend. A year or so later as my real life was slowly being reduced to 140 characters I would have told you it was the devil. It's safe to say I have a confusing love / hate relationship with the internet. This can be proven by the fact I'm currently writing about my relationship with social media on a ONLINE blog. Say what?!

Okay so is social media good or bad!? Should we run a mile from anything Mark Zuckerberg has touched or do we embrace him like a sort of technological Santa Claus. Truth is I don't know. 

I recently read somewhere about the concept of 'Dunbar's Number'. Dunbar is an evolutionary psychologist that studied the habits of humans throughout time and came to the conclusion that the number of social relationships that any human can meaningfully maintain turns out to be 150. Rewind a couple of hundred years ago and having 150 social relationships I can imagine would be somewhat normal in local towns and villages, if not a little unachievable.

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Fast forward to 2018 however and averagely we are attempting to have double that on our Facebook alone. Granted, the idea of social relationships might be slightly different in this capacity, but I still can't help thinking this overload of relationship might be damaging.

HOWEVER, the truth of the matter is, social media is here and it's not going anywhere. I could write for days on the dangers and negative impact it has on society but instead I'm going to give you a few reasons why it's also rather bloody good.

The communities that can be found online have given me the strength to get through some of my darkest days.

Social Media gives us the ability to find likeminded individuals on a similar journey to us within seconds and thus begin a relationship of understanding and identification.

At times when I convinced myself I was alone, social media was there to boldly and unapologetic tell me that I wasn't.

Let me give you an example. A year ago I was rushed into hospital after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My blood sugar levels were so high that I had to stay in for three days on a drip and the level of ketones present in my system put me at risk of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. 

As I sat there in my hospital bed thinking about the five injections I would need to do everyday for the rest of my life I decided to go on my phone and find out some more information. Within seconds I had found a YouTube video of a 13 year old girl confidently documenting her day to day life with diabetes. I then went onto Instagram and searched #Type1Diabetes and found community after community of confident, positive people dealing with this disease on a daily basis.

I saw celebrities, I saw fitness models and I saw party people. I even had a 70 year old man reach out to me that night to share his story and let me know he'd climbed three mountains in that single year. I couldn't of done that even before this disease came into my life yet alone at 70! Within minutes I was getting flooded with personal experience and support from strangers across the world.

Without social media I had convinced myself my life was over. With social media I was being told time and time again that it wasn't.

Here's another fact about me. I am a sucker for online support groups. I am a member of half a dozen addiction groups as part of my alcohol recovery, not to mention diabetic groups, Autoimmune & Celiac groups & even a few Mum & baby supports! I don't think more than a week goes past without me getting involved in a conversation or asking a question on at least two of them. Every time I have a problem I can't see a solution to these groups and the people in them are there to tell me it's okay and offer support or a clear route through. 

Social Media makes me feel less alone. Whatever I am going through I can find other people dealing with similar issues and together we can form support communities.

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My final reason social media is good, is you guys. It may not be the most universal reason but for me it's true. The people that read this blog, the people that chat to me on Instagram when I am awake at 3am with Daisy and the people who follow our Our Tiny Tribe journey. Thank you. You have created a little community that gives my family comfort, support and joy. You are there for our good days, for our bad days and for the days where we really don't have much to do. To you we are thankful.

Social Media can isolate and pull us apart. We all know that. Let us not forget though, it's power to bring us together.

David Gibbs