Social Media Is Ruining Our Minds
It also might save them
You have undoubtedly heard, the internet is bad for your brain. It can be especially damaging for those struggling with mental illness. Trolls are everywhere. Searching for information about your struggles may lead you into dark places. Websites that promote self-harm, suicide, and eating disorders abound, and many have hard-to-spot social media presences that no platform has quite figured out how to moderate: They’re arguably some of the internet’s most toxic filter bubbles. Even if you don’t wander into someone else’s stability-compromising clutches, you may end up compromising yourself; after all, search results last forever.
But telling anybody to stay offline in 2018 is impractical and myopic advice. Besides, the internet solves many of the problems therapists and other researchers have been thumping against for decades. Seeking mental health care in person comes with stigma, but it's easy to remain anonymous online. Getting to a therapist’s office can be too logistically challenging (think teens without driver’s licenses) or expensive for some. What's more, the web makes suffering searchable—painful social media posts and searches related to mental health are now indexable data.
Into that amalgam, two approaches to using the internet to save our minds have emerged: using targeted ads make people aware of services that already exist, and starting new social platforms designed to encourage peer-to-peer support. Neither is without risk.
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