I am in the process of creating a program about social media for the Looking Glass Foundation Eating Disorder Summer Camp and it alarms me just how much information we receive when even just browsing social media. Did you know that studies have shown that on average, social media users consume 285 pieces of content daily or, to be more specific 54,000 words and/or 443 minutes of video(in the case of this study they were only looking at Twitter and Facebook…I am certain with things like Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr etc these numbers would be higher). That is the same amount of text in an average sized novel or equivalent to watching 7.5 hours of tv.
There are many reasons as to why this is alarming and I am certain that most people who browse social media do as I do and only quickly scan through things, skipping over the majority of what I see. The challenge with this however, is that even though you may not be reading all the articles or watching all the videos, you still receive messages about these topics constantly and both consciously and unconsciously relate them to yourself.
We all know that when people post to social media, we typically only see their best days. Most don’t post pictures of themselves that they don’t like and they don’t talk about the tough days or the things that aren’t easy. This means that social media isn’t an accurate reflection of much – whether that be relationships, work, food, bodies or life.
So how does this apply to eating disorder? Well if we look at how many messages we receive on average each day from social media, and we think of how many of those messages have pictures that are based around body or appearances it is not surprising to think that it could make recovery more difficult. It breeds issues with self-love and with body acceptance. Eating disorders are extremely competitive and looking at these messages, consciously or unconsciously will have an affect on one’s recovery and focus on wellness.
So if you are going to take part in social media, which, if we are being honest is very likely, then choose who you follow and how much time you spend on it wisely. There are lots of really positive people or organizations on social media so try incorporating some of them into your list of people you follow. Pay attention to how you feel before and after and determine if you feel it helps move you forward or if it holds you back.