As 2018 arrived I was struck by a theme going through social media. No matter where I went, Facebook, Whatsapp, SnapChat, YouTube, Twitter etc, there it was. This theme was something I was familiar with but I never paid much attention to. What am I talking about? Well, to put it plainly, to have a so called “resolution” was in some way just fooling yourself. As the hours and days went by scrolling my life away I saw posts across Facebook suggesting New Year/ New Me as “bullshit”, people posting memes that the New Year would bring the same “ass hole person I was the year previous ”, or “Brace yourself, here comes the New year/ New me brigade”. But for some reason this brigade never arrived. I didn’t see these posts about the “New Me” that people were so sure were coming. I decided to stop and think about this.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good meme as much as the next person. When I see one that is on the money I laugh and continue to scroll, who doesn’t do this?   I’m writing now because we can laugh at this and move on or we can stop and talk about it. Whoever is reading this I want you to think about your social media accounts, picture in your mind those funny memes, or those nice messages that where taken straight from a greeting card telling everyone to have a wonderful new year. I love these messages and it does show the capacity we have for happiness and fun. But, how many messages can you remember that where not just “Have a great New Year…” or “May the New Year bring you everything you want…” Take a moment, how many messages actually said what people truly hoped for?

As I write this I struggle to remember some messages that I would have loved to see. What about these:

“Hey Folks, here is to learning another language in 2018, … Going to get healthy and take up dancing, let the fun begin… 2018 is finally going to be the year I start volunteering at a homeless shelter’… Guess what folks? I am going to be a mentor for a child who really needs help in 2018. This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long”.

The list of our hopes and dreams for 2018 are endless, yet we are too afraid to even tell people! The result of this?

Well, to be honest the result is, in the end we don’t get the support we need to accomplish what we hoped for. How sad it is that we are paralysed by this fear of being ridiculed for our dreams. What I’ve seen and felt is that there is a terrible shame attached to admitting, and perhaps ultimately failing, in our New Year resolution that we simply can’t move. We don’t want to be thought of as attention seeking or even the ultimate shame, just looking for LIKES.

Yes we tell our partners and close friends what we want in person but we don’t tell the world because we don’t want to fall into the category of the “bull shit brigade” as one meme states.

Now how about seeing this post from someone who you love and care about…

“2018 is going to be the year I finally talk to someone about everything I have been struggling with for the last few years. No more nights spent crying. Here is to a brighter year for me”

Not easy to read is it?

I understand the discomfort; if we can’t tell people our dreams, how can we tell them about our nightmares?

But it’s the same problem, we focus so much on what it means to have a post that people like and get the smiley or happy face we hope for, that the result is we don’t ask for the help we need. The Real World we live in is getting better. When we open our door and walk out, mental health is being spoken about in open forums. We can tell people in work we have anxiety depression or stress. We don’t judge the people struggling with mental health for getting help, at least not as badly as we used to. However, we forget that there is another world we inhabit where there is still a stigma. The World of Social Media. The ever-growing need for approval based on this social media likes, retweets, posts, comments, followers, links etc. means we become paralysed with fear.  It is shown that people do not find it as easy to respond to lines like the one above. Why not? Painfully enough the answer is simple; It doesn’t make us smile. So we move on, how painful, how sad and how true.

As I finish writing this post, all I can think of is how much we need to support each other. We need to change how we look at the world through social media. Hopefully over the next few years I will see posts of people’s dreams, but I also hope I see their fears and nightmares. When I see these fears, I will do something, I will be there for the people that I care about and who need me. From now on I refuse to continue scrolling my life or anyone else’s away.


Author Alan Oates