There is a certain irony to me writing this, considering it’ll be posted via the internet and then shared on my social media accounts... However I used to read posts like this a lot and knowing that someone felt the same way was comforting. I write about mental health to normalise it, to stop the stigma. That is why I’ve always been and always will be so open about it, because for goodness sake it is an illness. Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders they are illnesses that I, and a lot of others, are learning to manage - with the right help. Writing about any struggle I've faced has always acted as therapy for me. As I always say, if this helps just one person and someone can relate to it then that is all I could ever hope for.
I’m not sure where to start with this because I’ve been using Social Media since I was a child, this must be where the problem began. I’ve already spoken about the effect it had on my personal body image but the effect it had on me mentally goes a lot deeper than that. I think my addiction to Social Media first started when I first made a Facebook account. For a while it was the only Social Media I had, I don’t really recall what I used to post on there - I mostly remember moaning about School. It wasn’t until I was one or two years in that I first noticed people were being bullied on there. For the longest time people have talked about others behind their backs because nobody really has the guts to be awful to someone’s face. But with Facebook it was so easy to indirectly post about someone. You would log on and see a girl posting a photo and within a minute or two there would be another jealous girl writing a status about her, body shaming and making her feel bad about herself. This was always the case, they never had the 'balls' to tag the girl they were picking on and they most certainly weren't going to say it to her face. This made me incredibly fearful - my anxious little brain has always made me feel like people don’t like me or someone is talking about me (this, by the way, is an awful way to live) and so I stopped posting because I was terrified someone would say something and I’d think it was about me. I sort of gave up posting on Facebook, I was doing the normal healthy thing and going out with my friends, genuinely living in the moment and everything was great. Then along came Twitter and Instagram...
Which brings me on to Twitter, wonderfully toxic Twitter. I first started using Twitter when it was brand new so maybe a year or two after I made a Facebook account. This of course means it was before I started using Instagram but I had to put that paragraph before because I have a lot more to say about this website. I have always used Twitter for Rugby. If you’re reading this you probably know me and therefore know Wigan Rugby is my life. Twitter was used to meet other Wigan fans, to generally talk about Rugby League with people and without a doubt I have met some of the greatest people ever through that site. I was also incredibly amazed when I was younger that all these musicians, bands and actors I liked had Twitter accounts that I could directly reply too! This was a crazy revelation at the time but with this comes nastiness. I recently spoke to three of my closest friends about Twitter, I told them I wanted to give it up because it was making me ill, (something I’ll get into in a minute). None of them have Twitter accounts, they’ve all had them in the past but have stopped using them now - one of them told me he was really put off with the way it was used to hurl abuse at famous people so easily. This is the same for all social media platforms as it’s just as easy to throw abuse on Instagram,but the first time I remember seeing it was Twitter.
I could go on and on about the idiots that seem to get a lot out of throwing abuse at Celebrities on the Internet. But on this post I want to talk about how this has directly affected me and the people I care about.
I hate the person Social Media makes me! Now it's easy to sit there and say, 'well don't go on it' or 'well don't be a bitch on it'. You would be saying the right thing but that's the problem. Social Media is so addictive that we keep getting sucked into the ways of it... In the last few years I stopped arguing with my friends because we're not 16,17,18 anymore and therefore aren't children that argue on the internet. But let me tell you about fan bases and fandoms.
A few weeks ago my Sister, who is also a Wigan fan and with whom I’ve spoken about my issues with social media, posted something. She talked about grown adults that are fans of sports teams, online, who post about mental health then abuse Players, Coaches, Fans and Referees. She made an excellent point and I am seeing this everywhere. Everything seems to be a contradiction - you have girls that like tweets one minute about how bad cheating is and then the next seem to be trying to steal someone’s boyfriend. Or teenagers that use their past experience of bullying for likes then do the same to others. Then we have, as she pointed out, grown men who post about Mental Health but then go on to hurl abuse at other HUMAN BEINGS. This could simply be because their team lost!! I don't doubt for a second that these men probably do have Mental Health issues, like I don't doubt these teenagers have suffered with bullying. I even admit that these girls that are after other people's boyfriends are probably really insecure and unhappy... But none of this is okay!
I've been upset with a score and called someone something in anger, what sports fan hasn't? But with Social Media it seems easier and we get obsessed with trying to be someone we aren't all for validation.
All of this waffle about Twitter is because I need to make it very clear what kind of person Social Media can make people and why it’s affected my mental health so badly. Once again I’ve met some of the greatest people ever through it, I've also seen older men pick on younger girls, I’ve seen people that are able to give but not take and in response to someone get personal. And I can’t go online these days without seeing someone attacking someone’s appearance for no reason! The other day I saw a girl quote a tweet with her opinion, nothing rude - she didn’t need to respond but she obviously felt like she had something to say. The person who wrote the original tweet responded by attacking her appearance. It was so unnecessary but what was worse was that tweet had thousands of likes. Twitter seems to be full of that, it is hilarious at times but generally everything seems so mean on there and you get dragged in to liking it all. With sport it's easy to post things you don't mean because you do get angry at the other fans and the referees and even your own players - I delete stuff at times because I think 'woah that was unnecessary'. It's such a toxic environment and one we all get sucked into because we're addicted. The 'banter' is absolutely fine but the minute it gets personal, that's when you need to take a massive step back and think about why you just said that.
So I’ve gone on for ages and I could keep going. I didn’t even get into the role social media played in my Eating Disorder or the part it plays in the rise of suicides over the last few years. But I’m afraid I’ll lose you... if I’ve not already... if you’re still here than thank you so much for not thinking I’m completely mental.
Just be kind, stop being a massive bellend about everything because you can hide behind a screen - that is the only appropriate ending I have to this post. There is a lot of bad stuff happening in the world right now and a bit of kindness even if it’s on the internet, goes a long way.
Make sure you’re happy in real life and not just on Social Media.
Ps. So sorry I wrote so much, if you read it all I genuinely appreciate it so much <3