LOATHING LOCKDOWN | Mental Health and Mobiles

The introverts of the world may find bliss in the fact that for now, we must stay at home. Extroverts may hate it. The one thing that is for sure, is that we all must endure it. But none more than that group of people that suffer from mental health issues.

We should all know by now that mental health stability is a serious issue that can affect anyone at any time in your life. If you have mental health instability, then being alone with your thoughts is nightmarish, especially during a lockdown and especially during a lockdown when you have been forced to separate from your loved ones.

If you’ve followed #WhySoSocial, you’ll know that this is a subject that gets a lot of attention from me. Especially as it pertains to social media.

Read my article on data during the lockdown and you’ll know that one thing we all do a lot more of during this time is USE OUR PHONES… and when we use our phone; what do we like to do? Scroll through social media. Although it is has evolved into a human habit, there are a lot of things wrong with it. It has been ingrained into our nature since the introduction of smartphones. But it’s also opened up a dark side-effect of mental health degeneration. Especially within young people.

With the addition of more time on our hands, we search for instant gratitude or the next quick injection of entertainment to satisfy our needs. However, mixing this with a current or history of mental health issues is not a good idea. Now before we go further, let me say that I am no mental heal professional and I have no qualifications in the field but what I do have is a vast amount of knowledge through research.

Dr. Sandro Galea from Boston University said: ‘There will undoubtedly be consequences for mental health and wellbeing in both the short and long term” as a result of the lockdown, and this was further expanded upon by Roger McIntyre, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto and Head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit who outlines the life-threatening implications: “The anguish in staying home intensifies” that could result in rising self-harm and suicide rates. He then goes on to mention that “A lockdown can exacerbate these feelings of loneliness and depression, especially for the unemployed or the young who are also susceptible.”

Mental health issues are a serious condition at any level, but it is safe to say that life-threatening issues are undoubtedly the most serious. Now, I am totally aware that there are worse problems than scrolling through your phone and going on social media as a result of being unemployed and staying at home. The burdens of financial, interpersonal, self-worth, etc, struggles also come into play. But one thing is for sure, the correlation between young people, social media, and loneliness is one that we cannot ignore.

The question now needs to be asked of what we can do past the time in an effective manner to compress the mental feelings of isolation?

As a social media professional, myself for over six years, I know the importance of stepping away from this so-called ‘social’ entity which can often be very ‘unsociable.’ Video calling friends, participating in in-home activities, and exploring new and forgotten hobbies have been a refreshing way for me to past the time. But then again, I do not have a history of mental health issues and not everyone is me. I am not going to sit here and write what I think people can do to counter this growing problem but what I can write is that there are always people in your corner and sometimes all it takes is a chat. If there was ever a time to call a mate, that time is now. Stimulate your brain, your body, and stay active.

DATA DUMP | Our phones are getting smarter, faster during lockdown!

Data is an interesting subject. Some people find it fascinating; some people find it boring and then there are some people that find it darn-right terrifying.

If you own a smartphone which I’m almost certain that 100% of the people reading this do, then you’ll know these little hand-sized devices operate completely on nothing other than data. Why is a smartphone given the word ‘smart’ anyway? I mean, it’s just a device you use to message your mates or look at images of sunsets in Thailand or even listen to your favorite beats while keeping a second eye on a video titled ‘top 100 cat compilations’… nothing smart about that? Right?

Well, like me, you’re probably one of many people on house arrest… sorry I mean lockdown right now and maybe you’ve decided to binge-watch a series on Netflix or re-live the best sports moments from the last decade on YouTube. If you’re part of the former group or even do both then maybe you’ve watched the critically acclaimed series Black Mirror and if you have, then you’d probably understand where I’m going with this.

Your phone knows a lot about you… a lot. The more you use it, the more it learns. We all know this, this is nothing revolutionary but right now, this minute, this second, your phone is learning a lot more about you on an increased rate. Its brain is working in overdrive and it’s being stuffed with knowledge while still yearning for more.

What you may not have noticed is that, you (the average Joe – like me) are using your phone a lot more now than before COVID-19 attacked and when the world was a ‘regular’ (I use that word sparingly) place. By doing this, you’re subconsciously feeding your phones more knowledge about you than you ever did. Now, the everyday distractions of life have significantly decreased – I apologise if you have kids… I don’t! You no longer have to travel to work, you no longer get to visit your mates, you no longer get to well… do what you used to. So, what are we doing instead? We’re searching for the perfect holiday to travel after this is all over, we’re video calling almost every day and we’re looking at baking recipes.

All of this is making your smartphone salivate and it will soon, if it hasn’t already start telling you that you’re interested in things you never thought that you were interested in.

Scrolling through Facebook one day, my phone advertised and easy-bake oven for eight-year-olds to me. I thought, ‘why would I be interested in that?’ However, thinking about it properly, when this lockdown started, I was one of those eager people who ran to the supermarket to buy flour and guess what? I started baking. But most importantly, I scoured through the interned to find not too difficult baking recipes. I was successful and now I’ve baked three cakes so far and I can’t wait to use my easy-bake oven for eight-year-olds (that arrived yesterday) to bake some fairy cakes, topped with strawberry jam and powdered sugar.

Back to the point… although that was part of the point (if you’re paying attention). We’re living in a time of wanting to pass the time. My baking anecdote is only a small level example of the data I’m providing my phone during these times. Of course, I didn’t have to be in lockdown to start baking but I did start baking because of this lockdown and I did provide my phone with new knowledge and the longer this continues, the more knowledge I and also you will give our phones.

Is it fascinating? Is it boring? Is it terrifying? Maybe it’s all three. But one thing is for sure, our smart phones are getting smart… faster. And by the time we’re allowed to go outside and smell that July air. Yes, I said July! Your phone will probably know things about you that you didn’t even know about yourself.

That being said, I have to go… my blueberry muffins are almost ready!

Netflix and Chill is taking over Cinema

Cinema once dominated the movie industry because it was simply the only player in the game. Society was fed a monopoly where there was only one place to watch big budget, fresh off the film movies.

As years past, the cinema industry has had to fight off opposition from illegal downloading, illegal streaming, DVD releases and television movies and have yet still managed to come out on top.

However, there’s a new kid on the block.  A digital streaming powerhouse that has got everyone talking. Netflix is the major player in the game that is on its way taking over the world of filmmaking and cinema. Along with the likes of others that battle it out in the industry like Amazon and later down the line, Facebook Watch. Netflix has the power to steamroll over the cinema industry.

It’s hard to fight against a service that only costs £6/£7 per month that allows you to watch anything they offer on their service with new titles coming weekly. In this day, an adult cinema ticket could cost you anywhere between £6 and £12 for one movie… Without the cinema essential, popcorn!

We are in an era where Netflix is producing big screen, cinema quality films for their platforms. These are movies that only a year ago you would have only been able to see at the cinema. They are now attracting big-time A-list, award-winning actors. Actors that in-turn help drive the marketability and advertisement of the films they make, driving more traffic to Netflix. A cycle in which Netflix simply keep winning.

People don’t want to spend their money to leave their house, travel to a cinema and watch a film on an uncomfortable chair with teenagers yelling in the background. Many people in the western world nowadays have access to a big screen TV, a comfortable sofa, a supermarket down the road where they can buy popcorn for £1 and finally, a movie and TV streaming service, allowing them to sit back, relax and enjoy a film in the comfort of their own home. A much more attractive proposition going to the cinema. Netflix and Chill is a thing!

YouTube is Dangerous

YouTube is supposed to be a place where content creators from all over the world can share their most entertaining creations for a more interactive social community. It is indeed that place but it is also a dark place people and bots can exploit the minds of children without even knowing it.

If I were to hand my phone, unlocked, to a child (some as young as three years old). They would undoubtedly know how to find YouTube and navigate around the app.

Parents use YouTube to keep their children entertained. It is used as a tool of parenting and they subscribe to what’s known as ‘kids content’ with the idea that what their children are watching is child-friendly… But is it really?

When delving deep into some of these YouTube channels, you can find a lot of disturbing cartoons, animation content that has been knowingly or even unknowingly created by humans or bots on a mass scale for the simple reason of creating content quickly. A quick turn-around of content means more ads on your videos which means more money and humans cannot create videos as quickly as robots can.

When we let robots create this kind of ‘child friendly’ content we’re often seen with results that aren’t very child-friendly and it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

I have personally seen The Joker from the Batman series, kidnap and tie up Elsa from Disney’s Frozen onto a bed. This is found on a very famous kids YouTube channel called Animals For Kids. There is a lot of content our here like this and Google/YouTube needs to take a stand… Quickly!