Debunking Toxic Mental Health Trends in Social MediaAug 25, 2022
The double-edged sword of social media in our society
In the last two years, since the height of the pandemic began and many of us were forced to be locked within our homes, the world saw a shift not only in our day-to-day routines but also in our way of looking at our health and our wellness. Mental health has never been more at the forefront of people's minds till now. What once was a topic that only a select few talked about, is now the main focus of the content we consume. Open any social media apps like TikTok or Instagram, and you'll see vocabulary like " generational trauma" being thrown around. While it's great that we are finally coming to a place as a collective to heal, it's also really important for us to be self-aware of what information we are consuming online.
We are indeed living interesting times. We are surrounded by and constantly bombarded by information. Everything is at our fingertips these days. Just like anything in life, it all comes down to finding the right balance. I believe that in the last two years, there has been a huge surge in the wellness community, with overnight "experts'' offering tips on mental health, trauma, and healing journeys. As a trauma-informed professional who has worked with clients for years, it is important for me to share some information that could help you recognize the trends that are more harmful than helpful.
Is Trauma becoming Pop culture on Social Media?
We have experienced conversations and been exposed on social media to the word Trauma like never seen before. It is helpful to create space and hold conversations to educate on the complexity and the impact Trauma has. In a safe and healthy environment and certainly not for marketing ranks and popularity. There is so much suffering in our world and the pandemic just brought a worldwide heaviness of more struggles and challenges at all levels.
As we all know, access to therapy is expensive in many countries and people are not able to afford the care they need. Where social media is entirely free so more and more people are seeking social media content. The major issue is that many influencers on various social media platforms are referring to the word Trauma inappropriately or incorrectly.
Trauma comes from the word "wound” in Greek. Even though it is used to explain a physical wound or injury, trauma is also used to describe psychological and emotional wounds. These deeper wounds are invisible to the eye of others but they have a painful and devastating impact on someone.
Although the openness we witness on social media platforms on the conversation around Trauma can be greatly beneficial, they come with the negative side of the misuse and overuse of the word Trauma.
People are often tossing the word trauma for every unpleasant event they may have. Describing the loss of their sports team as a traumatic moment. Being stuck in traffic is a traumatic event. The word is dangerously being normalized creating desensitization to the word.
There are videos on Tik Tok where influencers with a considerable number of followers are making jokes about how healing their Trauma would result in them being less funnier so there was no point in healing themselves.
Trauma is certainly not a funny joke. It is very real, people that have suffered trauma live with constant pain and their wounds haunt them. Trauma impacts important parts of the brain, it dysregulates the nervous system. Trauma clouds and alters the perception of self, of others, and the world around. We must use discernment and vigilance when following and watching content on social media. Our world is in pain. We need to create a space that promotes compassion and inspires people to be respectful and kind. Younger generations are raised with all these social media outlets. We need to make sure that they find the correct and healthy information. I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that we don’t become a society where the bleeding pain for so many suffering from Trauma becomes “normalized.”
There is great content out there that is shared by licensed medical professionals and Trauma-informed professionals that can be the light in a moment of darkness and for wise and healthy content.
Just choose wisely.
The Era of Trauma Dumping
One of the latest social media trends is trauma dumping. For example, Tik Tok has been called by medical experts the “popular dumping ground.” The pandemic brought to everyone a whole new level of stress, opening the door for some people to do unsolicited trauma dumping. The emotional outcome of trauma dumping is not healthy. Trauma dumping is to generate consciously or unconsciously sympathy and attention from social media posts. Articles from Psychology Today share that “research shows that without some form of processing, the trauma dump doesn't help anything and can even make it worse." There is a complexity and sensitivity that we need to be aware of when looking at trauma. Psychologist Nelisha Wickremasinghe explains that "these trends on social media can increase anxiety, and receivers can experience 'secondary trauma' that is explained as a kind of emotional contagion where negative feelings become infectious."
Deciphering Trendy Terms like Gaslighting and Narcissism
The other phenomenon we experience is clinical terms thrown and the diagnosis offered on social media by people that are not even mental health professionals.
Just like the misuse of the word Trauma, some influencers on social media are often using the words gaslighting and narcissism inadequately. It can bring a level of credibility using these two big words to people that don't necessarily deserve it.
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation in which a person seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual making them question their perception, sanity, and truth.
Narcissism, a narcissist is someone that has a narcissistic personality disorder, and is a mental condition.
Many times these labels are given and are incorrectly used. They are often seen in an online feud between people and especially when someone has a different opinion or perception. It can be used at times as an escape, instead of looking within to figure out the root of the problem. Some people, sometimes are using these trendy terms to avoid addressing what's going on inside delaying their healing journey. Surely, it is easier to fuel drama on social media than to take the path to self-exploration and self-inquiry. That healing path happens behind the scenes and isn't so glamorous.
Another red flag to be aware of when navigating and following social media trends.
When self-care becomes a trend.
Self-care is much more than a trip to the spa, a five-minute walk in nature, or an exercise routine. It is about our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self-care. Self-love and self-care are about supporting and nurturing our wellness and our wholeness. Wholeness is who we truly are.
To nurture ourselves, we need to love ourselves. The relationship we have with ourselves impacts all other relationships in our lives. Self-love is not just about feeling good or taking some time for ourselves, it is a state of acceptance. It is having a gentle and touching appreciation for oneself, and taking actions that will support and nurture our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. To practice self-love and self-care, you need to be mindful and aware. Something that takes time and can't be taught with quick tips. It is a process of self-awareness and integration, into the embodiment. Personally, it was an important piece in my healing journey that I share in a deep reflection from my book, The Naked Truth of a Healer: The Path to My Authentic Self.
Nourishing the Self first activates a deep transformation. As Deepak Chopra says, “social changes start with personal changes.” Our self-love and self-care can positively impact the world around us, as we learn to honor ourselves and learn to accept our weaknesses and strengths we start to experience the world with lenses of less judgment. Something that in our fast-food society is not taught.
We are unique expressions of consciousness, so our uniqueness will show in our unique and individualized healing path. In healing and mental health, the one size fits all approach is completely wrong. I believe that each one of us has to find our formula for well-being. Our paths will look different; healing is a long, not linear road that will have many bumps. It is not a quick fix, as there is no boot camp for enlightenment.
Something to keep in mind when scrolling on our phones, we are the masterpiece of our lives. To be healthy and balanced, we need to pay attention to what we ingest, not just what we feed in our bodies but what we expose ourselves to energetically. I believe that stepping into our power is protecting our power and creating healthy and balanced boundaries that will nurture and support our well-being.
Article by: Émilie Macas
https://www.emiliemacas.ca / @emilie_macas
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