Is social media skewing my mental age?


August 30, 2017

My relationship with social media has always sat firmly in the “love” category. As an extrovert, I love the concept of carrying my friends in my pocket. I love knowing that if I need something to keep my brain from sitting idle, I can find it online.

However, as I approach the age of 30, I find myself looking around at the social media-sphere and feeling a bit baffled. In many ways, I feel as though my constant usage of social media has caused my interests to stagnate a bit. I feel as though I’m stuck at a younger age than I actually am.

There’s nothing quite like needing a sum of money to make you look around at your possessions purchased in more frivolous days and think “what have I done?” The hundreds of pounds worth of makeup and clothes, much of which ends up in a bin, for example. Or the 4 months this year where I couldn’t kick my taxi habit and spent £5 every evening to get home from work (this is both visible in my bank account and the slightly bigger clothing I needed to buy because I sort of count on that minuscule amount of exercise to offset 12 hours sat at a desk).

Admittedly, much of what I own, or the purchases of goods and services that I have made in the past few years, have so much to do with the consumerist obsession brought on by blogging and constantly comparing myself to others (and contributing to the cycle myself). I have a drawer of props I own explicitly for the creation of images for blog posts or Instagram. I order a Zoella product made for a demographic I’m really not part of when I know a much cheaper alternative is also of a higher quality.

I work hard and have a very well paid job, but I definitely cannot afford much of what even the more modest YouTubers (think 200K subscribers) can. Having such levels of disposable income reminds me of when I was in my early twenties – I still lived at home, had no bills or real responsibilities, so I could afford to buy whatever my heart desired. But now this feels so disingenuous.

Equally, there’s so much drama online. While I tend to sit back and watch (the equivalent of reality TV in my books) and try not to get involved, it’s such a throwback to being in school sometimes. Except school wasn’t optional – it wasn’t the way I chose to spend my free time. Yet as soon as the smallest spark of gossip starts, I’m on it like a moth to a bitchy flame.

I feel drawn to this mentality reminiscent of my early twenties, and then confused when it doesn’t bring me joy or a feeling of accomplishment. And I think that’s because, as much as I feel social media has skewed my mental age younger, I know deep down that this isn’t what my nearly-30-year-old brain wants or needs.

I need to save money so I can stay in the country. I need to gather enough funds to move to a flat with a garden so Poppy can have a better life. I want to help Katy go back to university and keep our household afloat. I want marriage and a mortgage and whatever else comes after that. And to get those things I need to reevaluate how social media is impacting my mental age and adjust accordingly.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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