Studies have shown an increase in depression and suicide over the last few years especially in teens, this is especially prevalent in those who spend many hours a day using phones and computers. Social media allows them to present themselves as their ideal self, the person they would like everyone else to see. People create and link to hundreds and hundreds of ‘friends’, providing a sense of popularity not afforded to them in real life. When many don’t like what they see in the mirror they can alter the lighting to conceal blemishes, choose a flattering angle to hide our multiple chins, until they no longer recognise themselves. Social media allows them to literally present a virtual self to the world. If they are hiding behind a virtual self who they feel is better than themselves, how do they then go out into the world and be confident to meet, converse and feel comfortable with others? Not only do they present a false physical self but then they create a personality and social world that they feel is needed to attract others.
I have certainly noticed an increase in sleeplessness, worry and anxiety with my clients. Many of them feeling they don’t know who they are, that they are living a false life that is not a true representation of ‘themselves’. So, when I explore who they think ‘they’ are most can only say “not what the people see or I present “most talk about how tired they are having to maintain this version of themselves.
As a result, I am seeing ideas of social normality or what it is to have relationships becoming confused. Interrelationships with others takes place in the world of a false, disembodied self, an unreal void begins to exist at the core of their being. People may be more well-connected, more knowledgeable and moving at a faster pace, but whilst they spend hours staring at a screen they start to lose their ability to learn physical skills, read books, have fun and make real, tangible relationships. This is why when you put many young adults in a social setting they don’t know how to connect or communicate physically – so they revert back to the virtual world (phone) to connect, even with people in the same room. There’s no doubt that social media and technology is the future but it is critical that we do not lose sight of the important things that are rooted firmly in reality.
We are in danger of creating an epidemic of agoraphobia which includes fear of wide-open spaces, crowds (social anxiety), or traveling. Agoraphobia can often be compounded by a fear of social embarrassment, as the agoraphobic fears the onset of a panic attack and appearing distraught in public. My role as a psychotherapist is evolving moreand more to