Nigeria Blog

Social media, anxiety and depression in youths.

“Millenials”, understandably known as “Generation Y”, “The Global generation” or if you like; “Generation Me” (considerably applied to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st Century) are according to Psychologist Jean Twenge described as: More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before.

Yet another survey conducted by the American Psychological Association,
Millennials were reported to have an unhealthy amount of stress, which keeps getting on the rise! The big question is “Why are Millennials so stressed out”? What is it with the youthful age that has slowly turned to a spin-ball of compulsiveness to get it right, and prove oneself as socially and materially ‘perfect’, thereby mounting an unwanted stress which eventually leans into depression? Are we misusing our freedom of youth or missing out on it entirely?

The enormous pressure on youths to live up to societal standard and outperform their peers, has revealed an alarming obsession toward perfectionism; the result of which is living with extreme anxiety, especially when the plans don’t seem to follow and it seems like life is passing us
by. Perhaps, to address an issue, it is safe to look at it from some of it’s “triggers”: Social Media Influence, Pattern Pressure, Time famine, Idolization, Success from a one-sided story, Ignorance.

Today’s digital era is an electronics-filled, increasingly online, fast-paced and highly socially-networked world of humans and technology has formed our state of livelihood by mere online public presence. Whilst we can truthfully say that social media without doubt creates endless networking possibilities, broadens social connections and provides an accessible
platform learn technical skills and amass knowledge and information from
across the world, its risks cannot be overlooked.

The susceptibility of youths on social media stems from the fact that more of their time is being spent online which makes them the most vulnerable towards to peer pressure and emotional distress, of if you like psychological dissatisfaction. The real malady here is that comparisons set in and one is forced to clearly compare their lives with those they think are doing better than them. Nearly everything seen online today, somehow gets imitated by the youths who are quick to bow to the pressure of proving to the world that they are not left behind.
The irony however is that the long hours exhausted online to keep up with the lives of others on social media can be channeled to real productive activities (both online and in real life) which can essentially earn one an actual living and provide financial resources needed to live a more content life.

Youths are now evaluated in a host of new ways and consequently, they have become caught up in the web of extreme pressure to fit in the box of social norms, expectations, and societal definitions of success, gender stereotypes and various labels of lifestyles.

So, we rank the scale of necessary accomplishments from bagging a list of
degrees, to building a personal brand to monetize our hobbies and skills, to acquiring all the luxury we can, and as quickly as we can because “Time is money” and the flames of the “hustle” only burns at our youth so we better secure the bag before time passes us by! So, one job becomes definitely insufficient. After all, the key to wealth is said to come from generating passive income streams. And not forgetting, the wedding bells won’t wait so long to chime because time, family and society are concerned!

We are under more pressure than ever to reach some kind of state of perfection and with societal expectations being such a big part of our lives, we’re constantly searching for the perfect way to live and behave in order to meet the expectations of a perfect life.

The twist: Some may wake up early to the acceptance that they would rather be themselves, and embrace their imperfections, than live in the falsity of societal stereotypes or expectations. However, many will remain trapped in a state of denial, and continue to wrestle with an unreachable pedestal of perfection in which society has placed before them.

This is a name coined by researchers whose studies have proved that youth suffer the psychological breakdown of the idea that they don’t have enough time to achieve their dreams. Consequently, such feeling is said to increase stress and diminish life satisfaction. Self content, patience and acceptance of one’s own pace in their journey can be powerfully uplifting, much more than the satisfaction money can give. Studies prove that self- contentment also improves not just personal well-being and happiness, but
also physical health and civic involvement.

Amidst the confusion of youths today in the chase for perfect lives is the hyper-youth-obsessed-culture of idolizing famous icons / stars. Every other day, the media carries news of famous and successful individuals who have reached their state of prime and are living a life of luxury and comfort, much more than any youth in their early beginning could ever dream of.
More intriguing is that success is no longer age-bound as a lot of youngsters have become successful billionaires and built their own empires. We take a look at the likes of Kylie Jenner who at 21 years of age has an estimated net worth of $350 million and Justin Beiber who at 24 years of age has an estimated net worth of $265 Million.

There’s a tidal wave of getting rich and famous and social media does a perfect job of telling us that everyone making it is out-achieving us! So, we move from being inspired by successful icons to actually idolizing them and feeding off their achievements, because we can’t help but measure ourselves by their success. Reality hits when we realize that we have barely gotten started and it may take forever to achieve the LIFE!

The DANGER OF A ONE-SIDED STORY is that it fails to create a proper
balance needed by garnering the right knowledge from all point of view. Or, as writer Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie puts it: “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

A one-sided success story is unfortunately the result of over idolizing the
public image and success of others, and failing to understand the entire

Once our minds become programmed to only see the glamorous and over-
glorified life of a successful person, it is creates a mirage of false flawlessness of success and returns to us with a harsh self-criticism for failing to become like what we see. These Irrational ideals of the “perfect
self” have become so desirable and especially hard to combat in a world where public image defines a person’s value and usefulness to themselves and society.

In reality, not every successful person’s story is inspiration-worthy, and for
the ones that are, we need to change the single-minded narrative to be able to understand that everyone has their own unique life journey’s and it doesn’t matter if you’re only getting started. All that matters is actually beginning! Go in the direction that your dream steers in; go ahead and begin wether you fail or not, begin wether you think you’re on the right path or not, you may leave that all that realization for later, because by then you could never know wether it’s right or wrong if you never begin.

It’s a hard-hitting daunting truth that even though we enjoy the luxury of a digital age, we’re undoubtedly still in an age of IGNORANCE.

We have highly passionate, boisterous, passionate, and energetic youths who are capable nation builders, but these qualities have been defaced by continuously excusing the responsibilities that come with hard work. Youths obsession with “The Good Life” and the high amount of pressure to achieve it have stirred so much impatience. Time has become such an expensive commodity to be invested in acquiring knowledge when it can be spent on shorter cuts that lead to an equally short-lived success story, or otherwise a complete tragedy.

Perhaps, it’s not the life youths don’t live yet that puts them under pressure, but the life they just won’t have (without working so hard for it), and they know it, so there’s twice the pressure to take it by force! Millennials now think; “If I don’t get what I need now, I might never have it”.