Social media is a platform for marketing, for business, for developing relationships, for reaching audiences, for posting pictures of food, and for making it seem like you live a perfect life. Maybe not exactly. Social media has no rules. People post whatever they want and say whatever they want about those posts. Each social media site has its own specific rules and regulations which guide how the community psts and responds to one another, but with millions upon millions of users on every social media platform it can be difficult to maintain order, respect, and authenticity. Social media profiles act as an avatar for the people behind them, meaning their profile picture, the things they post, the information they make public are all icons of themselves but not accurate representations. At once the internet is full of authentic expression which is fueling radical social movements for awareness as well as inauthentic representations fuelled by doctored photos and half-truths which are encouraging eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and body image issues. Teenagers and women have been the target of research about the way that social media affects mental health. Studies have found that social media use in teens and females of many different ages affects self-esteem in such a way that many have developed eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or other mental health issues. In England, for example, there has been a 43% rise in the number of men who are being referred by their doctors for eating disorder treatment in the last two years. BBC Panorama reported that 400,000 men are believed to be struggling with their self-esteem and eating disorders. Social media creates expectations for men to be in shape, perform athletically, and live a specific kind of lifestyle. One in four eating disorder cases are men. Creating a culture of comparison, social media is harmful to developing a healthy and authentic identity of self. Rather than focus on the development of one’s own story, men are constantly creating stories about others. While social media is supposed to be a platform for story telling, that story is not required to be the truth. Users of social media are left to wonder and fill in the blanks, then question their own story- which they often believe pales in comparison to others. Men who struggle with eating disorders are less likely to speak up about their problems and ask for help compared to women. Ongoing, eating disorders can cause severe health complications and wear down mental health.
If you are a man or woman struggling with body image or eating disorder issues and you’re turning to substances to cope or support your efforts, you can change this story in your life. Oceanfront Recovery offers dual diagnosis residential treatment programs focused on goal-oriented recovery to help you change your life for good. For information, call us today: 877.279.1777