An Introverted Actress

Is Social Media Bad For My Mental Health?





I’m going to start by saying, overall, I know my answer is no. I love it more than I hate it but it is a pendulum that swings quite rapidly between the two. The connectivity and creativity it has allowed me to have over the years, not only with my own family and friends but also with an audience across the globe, is incredible. An audience who, by watching my videos, reading my writing and listening to me sing, have inadvertently opened up doors for me that would have taken me a lot longer to open on my own (If I haven’t said it enough…THANK YOU, BY THE WAY!). However, when things take a slightly snarky turn for the worse, social media can become frightening and my mental health can dip to a point that triggers off motion sensors which force me to shut off from Twitter and Instagram. I spiral into a circle of explaining, watching someone misunderstand part of my explanation, then explaining part of my initial explanation which is then also misunderstood…it can get messy very quickly and suddenly I’ve wasted hours that I will never get back and should never have wasted in the first place.

There are many reasons why I sometimes want to throw my phone into the sea: watching others live seemingly happy,  100% glorious, well-balanced lives is a big one. Usually, that’s because in comparison, I’m eating an Easter egg in February with one hand, feverishly writing my book with the other and have worn bolognese stained pyjamas for seventy-two hours straight. Another big one and the main one I want to focus on in this blog, is when five people are “calling me out” for something no one should really be “called out” for. I have a tendency to convince myself that these five people speak for the entire population of planet Earth and therefore the entire planet hates me. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve f***ed up online before. There have been times when I’ve been called out and rightfully so. I’ve done my best to try and understand where I stepped out of line and then held up my hands and said “Yeah. That was really stupid. I’m so sorry!”. I hope my audience know that I would never try to be an arsehole intentionally and any subsequent arseholery is entirely accidental. That doesn’t excuse the arseholery nor does it mean no apology should be given but I do feel intention is important. You’re less likely to forgive someone for purposely stamping on your toe than if it were an accident, right? But there have been soooooooooo many times when I have received messages from a handful of people about something that I could never have anticipated nor do I really know how to respond to.

My first encounter with something along these lines was back in the days of good ol’ Myspace. I made the hilarious discovery today that my myspace page still exists so if you want a laugh, click here. I was about fourteen and I was messaged by someone insisting that I apologise for my brother’s band writing “devil worshipper music”. Now…for any of you that have listened to Mcfly you will know they write lyrics such as “There was nothing on Earth that could save us, when I fell in love with Uranus” and “the rumour’s spreading round that she cooks in the nude”. I think there are bands out there who are probably far more likely to be “devil worshippers” than Mcfly but even so, here was this girl trying to make me apologise for the fact her mum had confiscated all of her CD’s on the grounds that my brother’s band were lovers of Satan. Fourteen year old me wasn’t well versed in the ways of the internet and I stupidly engaged in conversation. I found myself defending my older brother and his indifference to the Devil for hours and hours and hours. I didn’t understand that whilst everyone should have a voice, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should be listened to and as a result, I remember finally telling my mum what had happened in floods of tears because there never was a resolution and if there's something that frustrates me beyond belief, it's a lack of closure. I couldn’t make this girl, who was probably also very young, understand. I should have learnt that valuable lesson there and then that not everyone will understand and not everyone will want to understand and that’s okay. You just have to walk away! 

Am I any better than my fourteen year old self now, though? Have I learnt that lesson? Because I still find myself in tears over my keyboard having convinced myself that the entire world hates me and thinks that I, myself, am the anti-christ. Not too long ago, I posted an instagram story in which I was holding a disposable coffee cup. I have a KeepCup  (A brand of reusable coffee cup, they’re amazing!) that I love and use often but on this occasion, I had left it at work the day before. So, on the way into work the following day, I resorted to using a paper cup that the shop provided. The response was as if I was single handedly holding a hairdryer on full-blast directly at the polar ice caps whilst simultaneously winding plastic beer holders around the necks of baby turtles. Trying to be as “green” and waste-free as possible is something that is very important to me which I do my best to support. Hence, buying the KeepCup in the first place! However, the response to a paper cup seemed disproportionately hostile and was definitely unexpected. It was the same when I posted an Insta story in the back of an Addison Lee cab that had been booked for me by a company I was working for. A few people assumed it was an Uber I had booked myself and sent me various messages in the style of “HOW COULD YOU USE SUCH AN AWFUL COMPANY?!”. Or the time I said I would write captions on all of my Instagram stories but then forgot a few times and was told I was being “irresponsible and flaky”. Or when, in passing in a vlog, I referred to Belfast as Ireland and not Northern Ireland and almost caused an online civil war between those in Ireland who cared and who didn’t. Or when any competition I hold is “UK only”. Something gets picked up on almost weekly and I get to thinking…am I really one of the bad guys? Out of all the actors, YouTubers and “personalities” out there, am I really up there with the worst of them? Am I one of the villains? 

I find it so easy to let the walls of social media close in around me when things get negative. To be fooled into thinking that the internet is real life and there’s nothing more to it except the glaring screen in front of me. The internet is a funny one because it is real life...and it isn’t. It is in the sense that it’s real, human beings but those human beings often saying things they’d never say if they weren’t behind a screen or even saying things they don't mean simply because...they can. I also often think that, had social media never been invented, no one would have the same kind of access to strangers in order to formulate an opinion in the first place. That’s why I feel like we need to be careful when formulating our opinions on things that we wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to access outside of the internet and we need to step back and ask ourselves why we care so much about people we don’t know…but this I feel is another conversation for another time...

I sometimes find it difficult to decipher when someone is angry at me for something they personally wouldn’t do versus being angry for something that no one should ever do. Then again, I sometimes feel the majority of people who perpetuate “call out culture” can’t tell the difference either which is maybe where the bigger problem lies. I like keeping the peace and I can often (but not always) see where people are coming from, even if they detoured down several side streets, back alleys and went by Wales to get to the point. However, the apology those doing the “calling out” usually expect for small discrepancies is a formal statement to the entirety of an audience, most of whom didn’t know or care about the situation in the first place. Which means I end up alerting a lot of people to something negative that they otherwise wouldn’t have known or cared about. So, do I only apologise to the individuals who are offended? Privately? Is that apology enough? Or do I not apologise at all and come to terms with the fact that a handful of people is not even my whole audience let alone all of planet Earth and sometimes, I don’t need to waste my time explaining myself to those hell bent on misunderstanding. Sometimes, Fletcher, people will be angry at you for something they personally feel isn't right but that doesn't mean what you've done is categorically wrong. It's just a case of people conducting themselves differently and That. Is. O.K.

However, I find it so damn hard not to say sorry when someone says “You’ve offended me”! I think that's human nature not to want to upset people! But, and I say this with caution, we do live in a world where people are often offended by seemingly literally everything. For example, last week a couple of people sent me messages after I had said on Instagram I had bought “squirrel-proof” bird feeders. Apparently, I made it sound like I didn’t want Squirrels in my garden nor did I want to feed them and I was contributing to the starvation of grey squirrels in the UK and preventing them from their normal patterns of hibernation. I also received a comment yesterday about not having the correct scientific formation of snowflakes on the front cover of my next novel and they needed to be changed because it just isn't chemically possible...*Slow blink*. These days, I feel like the lines are blurring between the genuine and the ridiculous and I can’t quite tell what warrants a genuine apology or when someone’s expecting a little too much from one singular human being.

I’m trying to live by “safety in numbers”. If it seems like a very large group of people are genuinely upset, that’s when you need to step back and take a look at your actions. However, if it is only, like, five people who seem to have found some strange nuance in between the lines of what you actually said/did then you need to work on not responding. And I need to work on that HARD. 

How arrogant do I have to believe the entire world is watching and cares about me using a paper cup or squirrel proof bird-feeders? Get a grip, Fletcher and learn to recognise and then ignore the blatantly ludicrous. Whilst I feel that everyone’s opinions should be acknowledged and respected, I don’t believe all of them should necessarily be listened to or taken on board and I need to learn to stop caring and just “do me”. I feel this is vital to my future on social media. 










11 comments

  1. The majority of the time, people will argue for the sake of arguing. It's almost as if is an emotion they are comfortable in. It's easy to look at social media stars, actors etc. And think they're invincible God like heroes when the reality is we are all human. I applaud you for talking about mental health, it's important to share, and its important to look after your own well being. To quote something you may be familiar with "if you were happy all the time, you wouldn't be human, you'd be a game show host". Its okay to have highs and it's okay to have lows, the important thing is to move forward, keep doing what you love and never let a person's negative persona influence you. You inspire so many, keep telling your stories and be the Carrie so many people love and admire. X

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  2. Yes! It all comes down to the very basic idea of “you can’t please everyone”. And also, people who disagree tend to be far more vocal about their opinions than people who enjoy your content. It’s the same with review websites for restaurants and/or hotels.

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  3. You can't please everyone and you are only a human. Sometimes, I believe people don't realise, that you are a normal girl, like the rest of us, only with the best job ever. I'm currently reading your book "When the curtain falls", and it's great :). You inspire me, to go back into writing, even when it comes to blogs. xx

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  4. A quote that I've always liked about people being offended is from Stephen Fry: “It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what."

    People make the choice to feel offended. Someone will always be butthurt about something. Don't give them the attention they want by trying to explain yourself as you'll most likely end up digging yourself into a deeper hole with them. Realize that people like that will probably never be able to deal with logic or reason, and then ignore them (no matter how difficult that is).

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  5. I sent the following in response to Coffecupgate on Insta:-
    Seeing the questions people ask you, it’s any wonder people share anything online! Every tiny thing is criticised. I’m sure the people asking don’t live 100% perfect lives all the time, why because you share snippets of your day do they think you have to! Like there is a difference between being honest about your day, by showing you using a coffee cup, and actively promoting the use of single use coffee cups. This is a subtly I think these people need to understand.

    Their criticisms also adds to the problem of people only showing ‘staged’ or perfect or unrealistic representations on Instagram. Because people will become afraid to show their truth and instead we will see manufactured filtered content.

    But to add, I agree the best way to deal with this in future is to ignore the select few.

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  6. You definitely don't come across as one of the bad guys on social media! With the landscape of mainstream YouTube essentially being close to a hellscape with the Paul brothers' weekly controversies and the fact that all viral videos seem to be about drama these days your channel and corner of the internet always feels like a haven from all of that!

    I think people in general need to chill and get some perspective on the genuinely awful things happening in the world and realise someone using a paper cup is not going to single-handedly destroy the planet! I appreciate that you can always acknowledge when you have made mistakes too which is also a fairly rare characteristic on social media. Good luck with the new book!

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  7. I am so sorry for everything you've been through. I really don't understand how people can be so mean, how people can think they are entitled to tell you what you should do or not - basically how you should live your life on a daily basis just because you share bits of your personal and professional life online. You give so much, and ask so little! But it looks like nowadays just asking for a bit of respect is too much for some people. I hope you'll be able to step back and "do you". Just remember that you don't owe anyone anything and that you have the right to be imperfect, to be wrong, to make mistakes, to be "human". Best of luck and love. xx

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  9. Wow. I am actually amazed at the things people get worked up about! The squirrel thing especially seems absurd to me... They do realise that grey squirrels are an invasive species that aren't even supposed to exist in the UK... And also, any human who has ever had a bird feeder in the UK knows that squirrels will literally eat all the food and the birds will see none of it. I think that's really the thing that gets me most. When people take time out of their day to tell you you're wrong without having any idea what they're talking about. I think now I'm getting sucked into the spiral as well aren't I? Regardless, you keep doing you. You're doing great!

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  10. Social Media can be so toxic and bad for someone. I deleted Tumblr from my phone and rarely visit it on my computer. I hate it when people offend me for liking something or doing something they think is super bad. But I think it's just important that you do what suits you and what is healthy for your body and mind. I like when people educate themselves or get educated by others (in a good way!). But when educating someone, one must always be polite and nice. We can't be perfect. We only can try to do our best. I started to block and report people online for being mean to others. Just don't let people get to you!

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