Mental illnesses have become a popular topic throughout social media and the news within the past decade or so. Many feel uncomfortable when it comes to discussing mental illnesses to the public because it can lead to feeling exposed, vulnerable and judged. However, bringing to light how social media sites can affect mental illnesses such as depression, is too important to leave uncovered. These sites can portray negative attitudes and harmful comments that strongly affect the lives of many Americans today.
As of September of 2012, an astonishing 95% of teens and young adults are regular users of the internet. Out of that 95%, 94% have Facebook accounts. This is an overwhelming amount of users from this generation that publish their lives on this popular social media site. However, there is a lot of negative activity that can come along with owning an account. One example is cyberbullying. This is something that the public does not see, because it happens completely behind closed doors. However, in 2011, ABC Family released a movie called Cyberbully, and it widened the public perspective of how cyberbullying can strongly affect people’s lives. In this film, the main protagonist, Taylor Hillridge, played by actress Emily Osmet, experiences an extreme case of cyberbullying. This film is based on Taylor’s life after someone hacks into her Facebook account and posts embarrassing stories and pictures of her that her whole school eventually sees. Throughout the film you are able to see the impact that Facebook is having on her life and understand that the online community can be a harmful and dangerous place. Bringing this issue straight to the public helped many people understand more about the negative sides to social media because they are seeing this issue and its effects directly. Bringing causes and effects of mental illnesses such as this are good ways to address the public because it puts a famous actress into the shoes of an ordinary teenager, and makes her more relatable.
Demi Lovato is another relatable celebrity who is well known for publicly addressing her mental illnesses and recovery to the media. She admits to being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and to MSNBC, describes her illness as high states of mania, and low states of depression. Demi coming to light about her struggles and posting about it on her social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter has brought comfort to many people suffering with similar issues. Her goal is to make people who are suffering with mental illnesses know that they are not alone, and to not let things that they see on the internet affect their lives.
It is important to understand how different people coming from a variety of backgrounds and cultures view the way social media sites such as Facebook affects mental illnesses such as depression. Some people may not be as informed or exposed to this issue as others, so it is interesting to see how people from the public view this issue.