Social media has given us the ability to be in more than three places in a matter of seconds. It has allowed us to learn new things about science, culture, well-being, fashion, and the latest challenges and trends. While being a critical consumer has always been important, it has become vital in today’s day and age. It is important that we, as consumers of social media, consistently remind ourselves that not everything we see and hear is true. Additionally, what we see and hear does not necessarily translate to our own experiences either. It is very common for someone on TikTok or Instagram record a snippet of their daily routines to highlight what it is like to live with a certain mental illness or disorder. It becomes easy for the audience to conclude that they too may have this diagnosis.
One of the advantages of learning about someone’s story on social media is that they provide (ONE) example on what a given diagnosis can look like. They can show the world what certain symptoms look like, giving the rest of the world an opportunity to get a closer look beyond what our doctors can show us. One of the risky consequences of fixating on others’ symptoms and diagnoses, is that it can lead to over-pathologizing our own experiences and interactions. In other words, we may start questioning our daily routines, wrongfully label our pet peeves as neurotic or obsessive, and become preoccupied with the question: “Are we as normal as we thought we were?” Therefore, as we continue navigating the social media realms, scrolling through our many accounts, be sure to remind yourself that not everything we see reflects our own experiences. If you are truly wondering about whether you meet criteria for a specific diagnosis, be sure to talk with your providers before self-diagnosing. Only then will we be able to fully enjoy social media for what it was truly intended to be.