Mental health, social media and COVID-19

BY RACHEL HOROWITZ, Guest Columnist
Posted 7/17/20

I know many of you are experiencing heightened anxiety, or nightmares about social distancing, or headaches while scrolling through misinformation.

I know you are feeling pressured to stay …

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Mental health, social media and COVID-19

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Posted

I know many of you are experiencing heightened anxiety, or nightmares about social distancing, or headaches while scrolling through misinformation.

I know you are feeling pressured to stay positive every day, to propel yourself to a feeling of normalcy. And I know you are scrolling through social media wishing you could be as relaxed as the celebrities on there, or even as happy as your Facebook acquaintances seem.

I feel it, too.

Social media is not meant to explain the bad days — it’s meant to cover them up. We hear about suicides and exclaim, “But they seemed so happy,” and we scroll through their profiles, looking for signs. The sign we cannot see is the shame associated with having a bad day. When your favorite team wins a big game or you celebrate the holidays or you transition to a new place, the expectation is you are happy. So you share what you think happy is, hoping the “likes” will serve as validation that this is the way you should be feeling.

Here is what social media does not tell you: we post photos of ourselves at the peak of the mountain and we pretend we were never in the valley. But it is only half of the truth. Having a social media image can be therapeutic, so let’s by all means not avoid it. But we should be careful to think we know the whole story about someone from scrolling through a profile. If it is not the reality for ourselves, then how can we expect it to be real for anyone else?

So I’ll stop hiding my stress pimples and uncombed hair on Zoom calls. I’ll admit that my anxiety medication is a huge part of what is getting me up in the mornings. And I’ll reiterate that it’s OK to not feel “normal” because this is not a normal time.

I have found when I sit down with others and ask how they are, this is when their filters fall off. That is when I know it’s not just me. Every time I think I would be happier if I went back to the way things were, I write down the truth. It puts everything into perspective and after many years of filtered smiles, it has helped change my life.

Whether you’re at the peak, in the valley, or somewhere in the middle, you are not alone.

Rachel Horowitz currently resides in Chatham County and works in Pittsboro. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

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