Jan. 1, 1983 is the official “birthday” for the highly valued, and to some, essential, internet. In 1997, the overly popular social media was officially created after the boom of the creation of the internet. The founding social media began with a site called Six Degrees that was created to enable users to upload a profile and make friends with other users. Since then, our world has become heavily involved in digital media and everything electronic. 

A common debate amongst those in our society is how heavily involved we as humans should be on social media or how often we should read sources stories on the internet and invest time into digital opinions.

Personally, I am an avid social media user to stay connected with family and friends. I also use social media platforms to reach a number of audiences with my photography business. Though I’m an avid user and constantly follow the media for my job as well as recreational use, I remain smart when I navigate through the media and internet.

Since the height of the pandemic, as well as a multitude of global crises, social media and internet users have seen a plummet in mental health. This downturn is caused by the increase of time spent on digital devices since the beginning of the pandemic. Social media can cause several negative experiences if used too much or incorrectly, such as fear of missing out (FOMO), isolation, insecurity of self image, depression or anxiety, cyberbullying, and self-absorption.

There are, however, ways to be an avid and active user of social media, but remain healthy and seeing the positives in the media. 

For example, if you know that you have triggers when hearing about tension, wars, or even the statistics of COVID, stay off of the media stations that you know will report those subjects. If you see a post on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter that has a graphic picture of gruesome events from overseas, keep scrolling. Simple methods such as these can keep triggers from firing off in one’s brain that cannot handle hearing or reading information such as that. 

Additionally, following social media influencers who have positive lifestyles and posts is a great way to begin building a positive use of social media and making healthy habits as a media user.

Though it is important to stay informed on what is going on in our world and local communities, it’s also important to put mental health first. 

It is as simple as, if you can’t handle talking about it, don’t read it and don’t tune in. This is especially true if someone forces you into a conversation you didn’t want to partake in. 

If you feel uncomfortable or feel that the information you are being told isn’t true or is misleading, you always have the option to remove yourself from the scenario because you are not obligated to be involved. More times than not, the information that someone tries to pour into you that you find untrue or misleading usually comes from the other person(s) reading into the internet and coming up with their own opinions or conspiracies.

Overall, it is best to surround yourself by positive posts or none at all. The internet and the media can be a fantastic source for many, and not so much for some. Social media usage is a personal decision that each person is allowed to make their own decisions based on their discretion. When making choices or actions on social media or the internet, remember to make the decision that is best for you.Your mental health is a priority over being another follower on someone’s media feed.

Always be kind, love one another, and adjust your focus.

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