The First Rule Of Social Media – Your Mental Health Always Comes First

Posted by Shreyashi Mandal in #NoPlace4Hate, Media, Mental Health
January 16, 2018
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

A combination of different features — live, stories, check-ins, reactions — on Facebook allows a person to be able to feel more accepted by society. Quite like any other place, social networking sites are not free from abuse. Abuse usually starts with commenting on a shared post. The shared content is mocked by many, often making the person feel miserable about their decision to post.

One such content is body hair. About two-three years ago, people found an image of a woman with body hair repulsive and decided it would be fine to abuse her on a public forum. Some of them assumed it would be just fine to order her to go shave. The woman in question fought back and shut them down, but the comments could possibly have harmed a person suffering from low self-esteem.

There is a certain sense of comfort in talking about unpleasant experiences on Facebook. One makes a choice when they choose to share their experiences, hoping their choice would be respected. Sometimes, all someone wants is empathy. They do not want to know which one is the better and/or smarter option to communicate their feelings. They probably do not want to avail the other option either because they are uncomfortable or because they do not feel safe.

What is the usual fate of sharing an unpleasant experience as an update? The update receives comments, and some of the comments are so damaging that they lead to another unpleasant experience. At this tiring point, no matter how educated a person is, and how it is always considered their responsibility to patiently educate the society, they can choose not to respond for they have been through enough.

This is not all. Some well-wishers happen to inbox asking the person to refrain from sharing a particular content in order to prevent abuse. Do they realise the advice is as good as snatching away freedom?

Facebook has been successful in creating awareness. In the process, it has also made it easy to identify misogynist, racist and borderline fanatic “friends”. At times, they happen to be school friends. They happen to crack a joke that is insensitive in nature. Asking them not to do it, and telling them that it is hurtful, only makes them write, “Chill yaar, it’s just a joke!

Unfollowing may seem to be a safer option considering people who block are believed to possess a superior air about themselves. Reporting the post would mean one has taken a stand; it could alternatively mean they are killjoys! What about repeated posts from the friend? While reporting the content could act as a temporary cure, cutting off is a permanent solution.

Mental health must always come first. You cannot marginalise your own mental health. It’s very similar to airline safety instructions—help yourself first. Sure, you are personally responsible for educating the people around you, but not at the cost of losing your sanity. Nobody on this planet has the right to reduce you to something that you feel miserable about!

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