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Gabbie Hanna and her manic breakdown on social media: The dangers of social media and mental health

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

TW: Mental Illness

The internet has changed our lives in a multitude of ways, from allowing us to connect with our loved ones in seconds to being able to have an abundance of information available at our fingertips. However, like all great inventions the internet has its shortcomings, and these can sometimes be less clear to see.

Gabbie Hanna is an internet personality who rose to fame on the app Vine. When Vine was shut down, she joined the mass exodus from Vine to YouTube and started her channel called “The Gabbie Show”. She has 5,27M subscribers on the platform, where she does “storytime” videos, hauls and even releases music. Another platform where this creator is popular is TikTok, on here she has 7,8M followers. During the week of 22nd of August, Hanna uploaded over 100 now deleted videos to her TikTok account. Many of these videos consisted of her talking about aliens, religion, spirituality, and the simulation theory. She also claimed she was the second coming of Jesus Christ and made some racist and transphobic comments. This led to many fans speculating that she was in the middle of a manic episode. Later, in a video series on TikTok that began on the 3rd of September entitled “About Last Week”, Hanna confirmed that she was indeed experiencing a manic episode.

Now what is a manic episode? Mania is a symptom of Bipolar I Disorder, a mental illness that affects your mood. Mania can manifest in a variety of ways. People in a manic episode can exhibit things such as reckless spending, hypersexuality, increased energy, inflated self-image and many other symptoms.

This is not the first scenario we have seen of a celebrity going through a mental health crisis in the public eye. We have seen Brittney Spears go through a very public meltdown in February of 2007, as well as Azealia Banks who herself has linked some of her behaviour to her struggles with mental health. There has also been Kanye West who has also publicly gone through some of his darkest moments. Something that all these events lead me to think about are the effects of social media on mental health.

It is no secret that social media can have negative effects on mental health and many studies can prove this. However, many people tend to forget this fact until they witness it for themselves. As people we tend to forget that the majority of posts we see on social media are faked, manipulated and edited. We see images of people looking happy and posting the best bits of their lives and create an unobtainable standard for ourselves. We spend our days scrolling on socials, without realising how damaging that can be for our brains. Excessive social media use has been linked with anxiety, depression and a myriad of other mental health issues. This is why it is extremely important to be conscious of your social media use. Your mind is the home you inhabit as long as you are alive, the importance of making it an enjoyable environment should not be diminished.

If you or a loved one have mental health concerns, contact a doctor or alternatively phone the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s helpline: 0800 456 789

Simphiwe is currently a first year Bachelor of Social Science student majoring in Politics as well as Film and Media. Their interests include reading, writing, gaming and astrology. Simphiwe also loves animals and doing their little bit to make a difference in this world.