Before you read this, we recommend you to go on to any social media platform and see what Gen Z humour is like. You will notice that most of the jokes made by our younger generation is self-deprecating and often makes reference to their anxiety or depression. When posts or tweets with a joke like this goes viral and are liked by millions of young people, it means that they can relate to it on a personal level. Why? Because our younger ones are suffering. Even someone who lives under a rock would have noticed the growing number of suicide and self harm among teenagers and young adults. Parents are panicking, not knowing what to do when they see their precious children being tortured by mental illness. Most older people would tell you that the kids these days are just too weak and that is the reason for the rising cases of mental disorders.
If you ask us for a clear cut answer, the only answer we can give you is that the research is still painfully lacking in this field. But what we can tell you for sure is that, without a doubt, mental illnesses are indeed rising on an alarming rate, especially in millennials and Gen Z. A study done by the National Institute Of Mental Health revealed that one in five youth are affected by at least one type of mental disorder. Keep in mind that this study was conducted in 2010, which means things must have gotten worse in 2020. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggests that the rates of serious psychological distress increased by 78% among adults aged 20-21 during the time period of 2008 to 2017. While we cannot tell you the exact reason for this obviously depressing phenomenon, we can still come up with some well informed speculations.
Most researchers believe the emergence of smart phones and social media platforms to be the reason for the rise of mental illnesses. This claim is very hard to invalidate. Using social media too much limits the time you spend with your real friends and family. It makes you sit down on a spot for a prolonged period of time and tempts you to neglect your exercise. It completely messes with your sleep patterns and leaves you feeling exhausted the whole day. When you do face some personal problems you realise that you dont have people to support you in real life and you thousands of online friends mean nothing. Therefore, you can begin to feel lonely and isolated. People who spend long periods of time on social media are mostly bombarded by two kinds of things: Bad news and filtered reality.
Let’s talk about bad news. Rasicm, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and the violence born out of this factors have always existed. But when you use social media these issues make themselves much more visible to you by the use of a single hashtag. From environmental issues to human rights issues, the younger generation is more aware about the ‘badness’ of the world compared to the older generation. From such a young age the children of today are made aware of the unfairness and the cruelties of the world which can effectively wipe out something called hope from their minds. Now let’s tak about the filtered reality. Everything you post on social media is the best version of yourself. The reality of your social media is just as edited as the profile pictures most people choose to share. But young impressionable minds would see a very attractive individual posting a picture of their perfectly sculpted and face tuned face on Instagram and spend the rest of their day resenting their ‘less attractive’ face and body. They would see the glimmering photos posted by their friends in their million dollar mansion and start to hate their ‘normal’ life. Social media in this case makes you feel like you are never enough, that everybody has a better life than you. This can make you feel worthless, helpless and you forget to appreciate the things you are blessed with in your life.