We live in a generation where social media controls a major part of our day-to-day lives and the want for putting out an image of our best selves online is bigger than ever before. We have so many ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ online and our online selves are connecting with people through the screen of your laptop or phone. Through our fingertips, we have access to share our thoughts, feelings and lives to the rest of the world without difficulty or effort. But, why is it that we struggle to find our voice when it comes to mental health?
When was the last time you spoke to that best friend from school you meant to see 3 years ago, but never got around to it because ‘life got in the way’? When was the last time you asked someone, “how are you?” and really meant it? Three simple words that get thrown across your phones keyboard and mundanely said to the people around you every day.
How. Are. You.
Across Leeds, you may find a funny looking image graffitied onto buildings and fences with two words scribbled near it that read, ‘Talk More’. One, for example, is placed across the road from Church on Woodhouse Lane which I walk past every day. I remember noticing the symbol in many different locations across Leeds and wondered what it was and what it meant. After doing some research, it seems the artist and the meaning behind the image are unknown. It appears that we have a Banksy of Leeds – or perhaps it is Banksy, who knows? However, a journalist for the Leeds University Newspaper, The Gryphon, describes the images as being two profiles of faces looking at one another having, what is guessed to be, a conversation. The image is subjective leaving you to decide the meaning.
For me, the slogan of the image has left me pondering on the topic of talking to the people around us. If anything, it has pushed me to talk to my friends asking them how they are and to simply listen. It could be argued that the ability to connect with others so easily, has driven social media to be a negative effect on our metal health, even though we are surrounded by people passing through our screens all day, every day. So, are we really connected?
The meaning of connected in the Cambridge English Dictionary is ‘joined together’ and the meaning of communicate is ‘to share information with others by speaking, writing, moving your body, or using other signals’. Social media allows us to stay connected and communicate instantaneously, yet it contradicts the true meanings of connection and communication.
Mind, a leading mental health charity in the UK, suggest that one in four people experience mental health problems each year. We can help to aid a reduction of this statistic by connecting with the people around us through real life forms of communication; speaking, writing, moving your body and using signals.
Put you screens away, take a break from your online self. Be your true self, present in the moment, and talk more.