Although fentanyl has been around since 1960, it became infamous in 2016. According to the National Center of Drug Abuse, in 2016, fentanyl and analogues were the most common cause of overdose deaths in the United States at more than 20,000, about half of all opioid-related deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Drug manufacturers developed pharmaceutical fentanyl for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied as a patch on the skin. Because of its powerful opioid properties, fentanyl is also diverted for abuse. Fentanyl is disguised as a highly potent heroin and added to heroin to increase the drug's potency. Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are actually purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths. So what can be stronger than fentanyl? Social media.
Social media is extremely addictive and affects your mental health greatly. It can have some of the same effects as drugs causing pain and even death. In March of 2019, a study on how social media and the use of filtered photos on it affects users’ perceptions of their, and others’, lifestyles, was conducted using 2003 social media profiles for those over 16 years of age. The study cited that just over half (51%) of all social media users over the age of 16 compared themselves and their lifestyles to others on one channel or another. An enormous 82% of 16 to 24-year-olds do this, making them by far the most susceptible age group.
Comparing one's life to the smoke & mirrors of other lives on social media can cause feels of worthlessness, depression, loneliness, and more. It makes you feel as if you’re not good enough and makes you doubt yourself. You began to filter your pictures and when that isn’t enough some actually get surgery to alter their appearance to get what they believe is the desired look of living their best life. They either get a tummy tuck, boob job, and the list of possibilities is endless. All for likes and hearts.
Likes and views dull the senses of those using social media. An article once said that the average person checks their social play forms at least 17 times a day. When they do get their desired views, likes or interactions on a post, the high is short lived and they are back looking for more. Hence, the addictive nature of the platform. Searching for more followers, more likes, more interactions, and more popularity consumes them and all other obligations are gone in the wind. When they do not get what they are looking for, the withdrawals are severe. An article just came out where an influencer had a breakdown because Instagram removed her likes. Studies have shown that social media has a high connection to suicide.
Drugs have been killing people for years; fentanyl is just killing more people at a rapid speed. Just like drugs, the effects of social media are growing as platforms advance the way to use the social network to satisfy the craving to be well liked. People have been comparing themselves to others since the beginning of time. Social media just opens the window for a wider pool in which to compare themselves. People have always wanted to be accepted. It used to be you had to wait to see your favorite celebrity. Wait to go to school to see what the most popular girl or guy was wearing or into. Waiting is over and we are in a time of right now. Social media has given you 24/7 access to others including celebrities. More women than men compare themselves to celebrities (44% vs. 31%), but more men than women compare themselves to colleagues (35% vs. 29%). These percentages are high because social media or access to what we THINK are celebrities real lives, makes them human. It sort of takes away the celebrity aspect when you see them out of the light. And you begin to think you can be held in the same regard if you garner enough likes, followers, and become a major influencer to become "instafamous."
So how can one avoid “getting high” on social media? Take care of your mental health by having a realist view of social media. Take social media breaks. Challenge yourself to do something incredible but don't post it. It’s ok if you don’t post every day. If you feel like you need to be filtered or altered before you post a picture that speaks to your self-love. Take a journey to love yourself more and accept the beauty that belongs to just you. Just like drugs, your associate plays a part. If you associate with drug addicts the percentage of you relapsing or trying drugs increases. Same with social media, if you associate with those who are addicts that behavior might rub off on you. Protect yourself. Unfriend, block, or unfollow anyone who encourages the abuse of social media.
Just like fentanyl, social media itself isn’t a bad thing if used properly. Fentanyl was created to ease the pain of cancer patients. Social media was created to keep in touch with people who were far away, share happy moments, and keep memories with friends. It can be used as a resource to gain valuable information to help advance your personal and professional development. It may seem I am giving all the dull and gloom of the platform but I just want you to keep social media in perspective. I am not against social media. Heck, I am a media personality. My career is built around social interactions but I keep it in balance and never lose sight of the real me in order to maintain my mental health. I just want you to do the same. When it comes to mental health social media is not the problem, the problem lies in the abuse of it. Only you can control that. Don't fall victim.