For many of us, the internet is a place of comfort, a place where we can be ourselves, and a place where we can meet like-minded people who are going through similar things to us. But when does this dependence on the internet as a support system and a place to share feelings become too great?
Dodie Clark and Hazel Hayes address this important topic in Dodie’s video, am i oversharingggg too much. In the video, Dodie talks about her relationship with the internet: how she uses it to help her deal with mental health issues such as depression and depersonalisation, and venting her feelings when she’s feeling low. “When I feel really bad I’m like, ‘What should I do?’, and I open Snapchat and I talk,” she says.
This can be incredibly helpful to those suffering from similar issues. Someone opening up in this way can often make people feel less alone and show them that it is okay to talk about their mental health. As Dodie recalls, during VidCon many people thanked her for being so open and honest online, in videos such as I am depressed today.
However, this level of honesty can cause problems sometimes, both for the person opening up and their viewers. Dodie reads out a message in the video, sent to her by Zannah Perrins. “You’re doing good because you’re breaking down stigma and raising awareness,” Zannah writes, “but the amount of detail you go into and the frequency is getting a bit unhealthy. I worry that you rely on the validation of your audience rather than talking to your friends and a counsellor because it’s not fulfilling. It’s like eating empty calories.”
When facing issues with your mental health, it’s incredibly important that you seek help from professionals or talk to friends and family. Sharing your thoughts on the internet can feel like a short-term solution, indeed, just like eating “empty calories”.
“It’s easier to talk to a camera,” says Hazel, and Dodie agrees. Dodie adds: “I want to open up, I am talking and I am getting it out there technically to people but I’m talking to myself. I can’t see anyone’s reaction and I’m not getting anyone saying ‘yeah’ back, or ‘hmm I don’t know’, or ‘try this’. [It’s] one-sided.”
Furthermore, whether you have ten followers, a thousand, or over a million in the case of Dodie, whatever you put online has the possibility of impacting those who see it, whether it be for good and bad.
So, given this impact, should people share online how they’re feeling in their darkest moments? “There are no guidelines for this, there is no etiquette. This hasn’t existed before and I can’t tell you what’s right and wrong,” says Hazel.
In Dodie’s follow up video, she talks directly to her audience about the issue. “I have learned that some things should remain private, especially when I have such a young impressionable audience following me,” she says.
“I think I’m going to treat my audience as I would my little sister from now on,” she goes on to add, “and my little sister doesn’t want to read certain posts that I’ve posted recently on Instagram, or the Snapchats I’ve made in my worst state. I stand by the fact that talking about mental health is important, and I stand by sharing my experiences, but I think it can be done in a healthier way.”
It can be hard to admit when you’ve done something wrong, and even harder when the things that have hurt people come from a place of good intentions. Dodie is clearly very emotional in both videos, but not only does she admit her mistakes and apologise, she has turned this feedback into a learning experience. A truly admirable response.
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article, you can get in touch with one of the following charities:
- If you’re under 19 you can talk to a Childline counsellor on the phone on 0800 1111, or online at childline.org.uk
- For advice on mental health and where you can go for help, contact Mind on 0300 123 3393, or visit mind.org.uk