The dark side of social media and the Kiwis who are fighting it

The dark side of social media and the Kiwis who are fighting it
Photo credit: Supplied; Rach Axis, Jesse James and Lydia O'Donnell

The world is more connected today than ever before and social media can be a positive aspect in our lives.

It's also addictive, can encourage jealousy, and studies prove it can make us feel more isolated. While scrolling through our feeds, we have become targeted by marketing we didn't necessarily subscribe to.

After trimming the fat found in my own social media feed over the last few weeks, I've grown more aware of what I'm exposing myself to on Facebook and Instagram.

I found that I had been making unrealistic comparisons to others outside of my peers and I would subconsciously judge, analyse and draw an opinion of content that I wasn't always into. 

At worst, it could trigger me to question my own self-worth or gave me a glimpse at what I do not have and was missing out on. 

If I don't always like it, and it's not "influencing" me for the better, why on earth would I expose myself to it?

It turns out culling this sort of negativity and toxicity out of our lives in real life and on social media has a positive benefit on our brains and emotions.

The dark side of social media and the Kiwis who are fighting it

According to relationship expert and therapist Leanne French, what we surround ourselves with affects us both consciously and unconsciously.

She says controlling what we are "fed" is vital, with "influencers" and their messages playing a huge role in our mood, emotions and self-esteem. Youth are most at risk.

"Some people will be influenced to go to extremes if they don't have enough life experience, if their personal boundaries aren't strong enough, or if they have low self-esteem, or don't feel good enough about themselves, their body, their job or performance as parents or sportspeople," French told Newshub.

"Trying to achieve perfection can lead to self-harming, anorexia, bulimia, depression and addiction, mostly as a shortcut to the 'ideal' self.

"Influencers want to get your eyes on their goods, even if their goods aren't good for you or the planet.

It's important that our "influences" are empowering, positive, thought-provoking and time-worthy.

"If who they are and what they are doing or promoting meets your needs, is aligned with your values, is trusted, authentic, and positively inspires you to feel good about who you are now, then go for it," she says.

"Truth, validation, vulnerability and empathy are core and real identifiers of positive persuaders. What they tell you should have measurable deliverables and have small achievable steps."

So, if you are also streamlining and culling, here are some Kiwis who promote values over freebies.

How fitness matters 

 

Lydia O'Donnell started One Step, a group aimed at battling mental health issues through running.
Lydia O'Donnell started One Step, a group aimed at battling mental health issues through running. Photo credit: Matt Queree

Lydia O'Donnell likes to run. Not only is she good at it, she is well aware of the benefits that fitness can bring to our mental well-being and is committed to sharing that with as many people as possible.

She created One Step, a mental health community that is aimed to tackle mental illness through the simple act of running, and uses her Instagram platform as a tool to inspire and connect runners of all levels around the world as well as to motivate people to take up the act of running.

"Never do I want people to compare themselves to me, I just want to be a tool to inspire people to run and move for their mental health rather than anything," O'Donnell explained. 

"Running for me is a form of medicine for the mind. It helps to drive a sense of purpose through releasing endorphins and creating a very natural high."

Not your norm

Jesse is an Auckland-based content created with a passion for showcasing his love of pushing the limits and chasing goals.
Jesse is an Auckland-based content created with a passion for showcasing his love of pushing the limits and chasing goals. Photo credit: Jesse James.

He fizzes off extreme sports and can often be found jumping out of airplanes: Jesse James produces content with a flair for life and pushing himself to the extreme.

His Instagram is a collection of photos from his adventures around the world and in New Zealand.

"My passion for motorcycles, extreme sports and photography has turned into a job and this is a dream come true," James told Newshub.

"Every morning you have two choices, continue you sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them. I decided to chase mine

"My aim is to inspire as many people as possible that if you work hard enough for something anything is possible."

Striving to make positive changes

Richie Hardcore encourages positive conversations looking at society.
Richie Hardcore encourages positive conversations looking at society. Photo credit: Richie Hardcore

When Richie Hardcore was struggling with mental health, he began sharing his own experiences on social media.

"There's been lots of public, retrospective learning," he told Newshub.

"I'm passionate about promoting a holistic approach to health and wellness as well as encouraging people to look more critically at today's social norms. The status quo is often counter to leading a healthy life."

He places an importance on discussion around mental, physical and emotional health - openly and honestly, and how the societies in which we live shape and affect all of those.

"Given ill health in all those spheres is increasingly prevalent, I try and share evidence based approaches I've found along the way to encourage people to explore new ways of doing things, ask for help and make changes in their own lives and indeed the world we live in," he said.

A familiar face

Brodie Kane shares her daily life on Instagram with a profound sense of honesty and authenticity.
Brodie Kane shares her daily life on Instagram with a profound sense of honesty and authenticity. Photo credit: Brodie Kane.

Brodie Kane's Instagram platform has blown up off the back of simply sharing her everyday life.

The breakfast radio host is currently in training for her first full marathon and she is showcasing her progress as she strives to raise money for Catwalk Spinal Trust

 "I find it's important to always set goals and challenges and so it just sort of started once I signed up and a running journey can be so fascinating with lots of ups and downs that I just kept yarning about it on Insta.

"It's become a bit of an accidental inspirational journey for some people which is very humbling," she said.

Brodie's mum, Jo, often features in the former Breakfast presenter's updates, not without her witty remarks and quick humour, making for entertaining content with a really authentic presence.

Working hard now, to make a difference later

Rach Axis balances study, working and training as she works to make the world around her a better place.
Rach Axis balances study, working and training as she works to make the world around her a better place. Photo credit: Rach Axis.

Rach Axis is set to compete in the New Zealand fitness model search in October this year and as she dedicates herself in training, the Tauranga mother is highlighting the guts of what it takes with some hard-hitting updates about her internal battles along the way.

Now working towards completing her personal training certificate by early next year, she will also graduate university with a social work degree in December 2019.

Rach then plans to combine the two and will work to support, women especially, in overcoming mental illness, sexual abuse, eating disorders, addiction as well as self-love.

"I'd love to be able to do one on one counselling sessions but not in a clinical office based structure, more of a holistic based approach involving physical activity, outdoors and nature, meditation, sport, health and nutrition," she told Newshub.

As she balances being a mum to Karcia, loving partner to singer/songwriter Tiki Taane, her studies and training, she is dedicating herself to make a difference in the world.

Encouraging others to Live More Awesome

Jimi Hunt promotes discussing wellbeing in a welcoming and thought-provoking environment.
Jimi Hunt promotes discussing wellbeing in a welcoming and thought-provoking environment. Photo credit: Jimi Hunt.

His projects have included building the World's Biggest Waterslide, a task Jimi Hunt launched to simply help other people.

Under his charity Live More Awesome Hunt is encouraging and inspiring everyone he can to take control of their mental health.

The 2014 New Zealander of the Year finalist was the opening speaker at TedxAuckland where he conveyed of the importance of asking others for help through trying times.

"My life's mission is pretty simple, to help people create positive change in their own mental health," Hunt told Newshub.

"Instagram is a great way to visually tell stories. Unfortunately most of those stories are superficial and unhelpful.

"My simple  hope with my Instagram is to connect with people through brutal honesty, openness and love. And to inspire them to look after themselves and others. Sometimes you have to use pretty pictures to do that."

 

Ultimately, there are many amazing Kiwis, showcasing a range of skills, passions and dreams on their social media. Each to their own, but as French says, try to avoid feeds that are faked, forced, over filtered or filled with obvious salesy and preachy content.

The point is - if you don't always like it, and it's not "influencing" you for the better, why on earth would you expose yourself to it?

Newshub.

 

The dark side of social media and the Kiwis who are fighting it
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