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Mental Health

Monitoring Well-being on the World Wide Web

The Internet, especially social media, is a labyrinth – one which I, and I’m sure many of its users, find very easy to get lost in. The lines between what is an honest opinion versus a sponsorship or between what is a real picture and what is photoshopped are so heavily blurred to the extent that it is impossible to distinguish the legitimate from the fake. It quickly becomes very overwhelming: seeing perfectly themed Instagram feeds or the Kardashians and their ‘perfect’ lives, flawless bodies and desirable possessions can leave us feeling envious – why can’t that be me? Of course they can act as motivation in terms of a goal you wish to achieve and in moderation such competition is healthy, but it is so easy to get bogged down by the sheer volume of ‘perfection’ we are forced into aspiring to; as women, our insecurities are targeted by marketing brands as a means of promoting big sales: want Kim Kardashian’s liposuctioned stomach? Buy these appetite suppressant lollies! Want Kylie Jenner’s long, thick hair extensions? Eat these vitamin supplements! We are constantly fed lies that these features are natural, and possible to achieve without going under the knife. As such, social media, and in particular Instagram, can become (rather than a space of inspiration and sharing fun moments of our lives) a void of self-esteem issues and unhealthy comparison. 


But social media is such a huge part of our lives – it is so essential to us for communication that it would unrealistic and almost impossible to try to ditch it altogether. So, how can we avoid the darker side of it? 


Monitor your usage – it may seem like a quick scroll, but it is so easy to fritter hours away on social media without realising it. There is plenty of content that can help, just search ‘monitor social media’ and you will find loads of great apps. One in particular is Forest – a virtual tree you can grow by not spending time on social media. 


Edit your feed – cookies are everywhere and they try to manipulate our search engines to show us what they think we want: a quick Google search of Kim Kardashian and suddenly your timeline will be full of pictures of her. To combat this, manipulate cookies to what you want to see – follow cute animal pages or ‘wholesome memes’ and you’ll see how quickly your feed can become a much more positive (and cuter) space. 


Take inspiration – if there is a certain goal you’re trying to reach, such as running 5k or saving money to do something, follow an account that will remind you of your goal – there are plenty of motivation pages which lack the advertising aspects of your favourite celebrities’ profiles. 

I'm Ellie, a third year English student and the Editor-in-Chief at HerCampus Bristol. I love sunshine, long walks and English breakfast tea! I write about all things health and wellness, with a few miscellaneous topics sneaking in here and there.
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