Constantly trying to be your Best can lead you to being Depressed

Were you born from, approximately, the 1980’s onwards? Then most probably you’re entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused and lazy. According to Simon Sinek, a British-American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant, people born during this period are accused of such things and are known as “The Millennial Generation”.

The Millennials are immersed in technology, multitaskers, impatient, due to the fact that they fail to realise that some things in life, such as love, self-confidence etc. have a long process. From a very young age, it is drilled into them, that they are special and brought up with the motto: “follow your dream”. This motto makes them determined, confident and sets their expectations high enough to instantly feel shattered and disappointed as soon as they encounter the reality of work, rendering them with a distorted self-image. This automatically results in “having an entire generation growing up with a lower self-esteem than previous generations” — Simon Sinek. However, the lower self-esteem is not only due to this factor.

It’s true that we are raised in an era where we can be who we want to be but not everyone makes the right choice of who they really want to be. I believe that from a young age we are instantly being given a huge responsibility, which is that of creating a virtual self, bringing us back to online identity. As Simon Sinek said — we are getting used to showing people a different life than that we are actually living. This is because social networking sites such as facebook and Instagram allow us to add filters to everything and make it look better even though we might be feeling depressed. But why does everything has to look all sunshine and rainbows?

As noted by Margie Warrell, a best-selling author, speaker and media commentator, we are suffering from the best-self fatigue. The best-self fatigue is when you never feel good enough and you’re constantly trying to present your “best-self” or live your “best-life”. She said that “We live in a society that celebrates perfectionism even as it censures it.” I think that this is what is happening to us on social media, we are trying to always be at our best to the extent that we end up exhausting ourselves.

“Our deepest fulfilment in life doesn’t flow from the parts of us that are flawless; it flows from the parts of us that we’ve been wrestling with our entire life. The rough and raw parts that make us real, relatable and allow us to forge the most authentic connections with others.” — Margie Warrell

What is happening is that people living through their adolescence, are usually the ones who go through a lot of stress because of the different changes they go through during this stage of their life. However, when this stress manifests, they are turning to their devices and online accounts rather than relying on their friends or family. Unfortunately, as Sinek stated, these devices only offer a temporary relief. He further states that, frequent facebook users suffer a higher rate of depression than less frequent facebook users and this is because people are creating an imbalance in their lives. This imbalance tilts towards the delusion that technology can make us feel good, therefore, we give it our full attention.

“Engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine, that’s why when you get a text it feels good.” — Simon Sinek

What is this dopamine? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical responsible for sending messages between the brain and different nerve cells of the body. Dopamine is also produced when we do other addictive activities such as gambling, smoking and drinking. All of these are so called “Reward-based Behaviour” and so is technology. For example, when you update your profile picture, you don’t stop looking at your phone/laptop to see how many likes you’ve earned, in this case the ‘likes’ are your reward. That’s why when people hear their phone ring but are unable to answer it, their heart rate increases and are unable to reason well. Sinek argues that, if we have age restrictions on these activities, shouldn’t we also have age restriction on social media?

This is a thought-provoking question because the media has become highly addictive as all those other activities, and it renders the same symptoms. A social media addict starts the same way an alcohol addict does — they turn to these things either because they feel depressed, lonely, because of peer pressure etc. As a result these activities give you a high expectation of making things better, although in reality they make them even worse. Therefore, it’s risky to raise our children, from the very beginning, glued to technology without first knowing life otherwise.

This blog is a project for Study Unit MCS3953, University of Malta.