Coping with the Pressure of Social Media
The internet and social media come up a lot when talking about BDD because for many people it is an important part of their lives.
These technologies and platforms offer lots of benefits and can be a fun and interesting way to spend time. However, sometimes our relationship with social media can become an issue; this is when you notice that being on the internet/social media makes you feel anxious, distressed, ashamed, or depressed, rather than happy or excited.
Signs to watch out for
There are a number of signs which may point towards a problematic relationship with social media.
- You might find yourself spending hours comparing yourself to others, loading up pictures of yourself, visiting blogs or going on make-up tutorials, all in an attempt to make you feel better about your appearance.
- You might also use social media to try to get reassurance about your appearance by signing up to sites where appearance is rated.
There are a number of risks with this; you may quickly get into a vicious cycle of being overly focused on your appearance. You may also become exposed to unhealthy and unrealistic messages about appearance which can in turn affect your body image.
Top tips for managing your relationship with social media and apps
- Set limits for how many times a day and how long you will access an app or website
- Set small targets that gradually limit your time using apps/websites and then go longer between checks and reward yourself when successful (it’s really important to acknowledge your hard work with rewards!)
- Choose another fun or distracting app during the time you would normally check your unhelpful apps
- Avoid or delete unhelpful apps/websites i.e. those that make you distressed and anxious
- Find positive, funny or inspirational people to follow instead
- Always be cautious about uploading any pictures of yourself and never send nude pictures to others
Children and young people
If you are a young person, it is worth remembering that many websites are designed for adults or those over 18, so you cannot be sure who you are talking to and not all sites are properly regulated, meaning that the companies do not do necessarily follow any laws or use appropriate safeguards.
You might get asked to send intimate pictures of yourself or might feel under pressure to meet strangers you have met on the internet in person. You should not send any photos of yourself unless you would be happy about other people seeing these. Once you send them, you have no control over how these photos are used.
Cyber-Bullying and BDD
Bullying is a problem that affects many teens and, nowadays, bullying can occur anywhere, day or night, via ‘cyber-bullying’.
If you have BDD already, it is likely that cyber-bullying is going to impact your mood and self-worth even more, because you already dislike yourself in some ways.
If you have been using apps and social media to try to get reassurance about your appearance, uploading photos and sharing content, cyber-bullies might see that appearance is very important to you and use this information to hurt you. This is because most cyber-bullies or ‘trolls’ are driven to pick on the things people already feel very vulnerable or insecure about.
It is really important to remember that social media is poorly controlled and not regulated in a careful way. This means that anyone can make an app, and some people who post on blogs do so to promote unhelpful messages that are driven by their own agendas. It is important to tell someone if you are being cyber-bullied and many websites have functions where you can block or manage bullies / trolls.
Is what we see on the internet realistic?
There is so much advanced technology used on the internet nowadays that we are often faced with unrealistic and unattainable images of ourselves and others. Often, the images you see are highly selected and/or have been put through many filters and alterations before being posted online.
This means that you may be comparing yourself against these pictures, forgetting that they are actually far from what real people look like. Remember, not even models look like their pictures!