In collaboration with The Do Lectures, Jack Harries shares the relationship between his mental health and social media.
Speaking in Wales, Jack begins by sharing his start in filmmaking, from dabbling in film as a kid with twin brother Finn Harries to launching his YouTube channel during his gap year. He explains how starting the channel changed the course of his life, as he would later leave university, which he found made him feel unhappy and limited, to pursue his YouTube dreams.
Upon leaving university, Jack and Finn founded their own production company, shared their Rickshaw Run documentary series and launched a charity campaign for Teenage Cancer Trust. However, as their channel began to grow, they began to feel a pressure, where they were torn between making videos advertisers and viewed wanted and making videos they themselves would be proud of.
While Finn decided to pursue design at Parsons in New York, Jack pushed through with the YouTube channel, hiring a small handful of employees along the way. This is where he began to feel overwhelmed and lonely. As he explains, he would often go home and cry in his room, and he eventually shut down the production company. Here is where he would enter a dark period in his life.
At the urging of family and friends, Jack was convinced to see someone and was diagnosed with clinical depression. He explains how this diagnosis shocked him, as he never thought he’d be one to suffer from depression, being the “happy” guy. However, he acknowledges how this was an incorrect way of thinking, sharing how the stigma around mental health issues in young men led him to hiding his diagnosis from others. This transcended into his social media accounts, where he would make it appear as if everything was okay.
Jack goes on to explain how a school reunion changed his thinking about mental health and society’s use of social media. Upon opening up to fellow classmates, he found that others were dealing with similar issues to him, which surprised everybody, given that no one had publicly hinted at their struggles online. It was at this point Jack’s view of the world morphed into what it is today.
Nowadays, Jack feels he’s in a better place, and while he admits to not having the perfect conclusion, he ends his talk by discussing how we need to change how we create, consume and curate our world on social media. “We’re directly controlling the narrative that we put out to the world and the narrative that we learn of the world too,” he says. As he explains, placing ourselves into this perfectionist bubble is dangerous, especially when we feel we can’t live up to the image we portray online.
Overall, the main message we took from Jack’s talk is that we need to step back and re-evaluate how we use social media. We need to look at how it’s affecting our mental health and adjust our usage to better fit our needs. As well, we should continue to talk about mental health. Through vulnerability and discussion, we can continue to break down existing stigmas.