A book has been published by a novelist, Matt Haig about the dangers posed to our mental health, by 21st century living. His book is entitled “Notes on a Nervous Planet” and comprises a series of short chapters and “Twitter style snippets” on how we can look after our heads better and why doing so matters.
According to Matt Haig, the identified rogue seems to be the Internet and he describes our addictive relationship with both internet and social media and of the destructive behaviour it encourages.
He describes our need to check updates on social media and he refers to “reductive Twitter spats” with complete strangers and the trait of needing to “pore over other people’s Instagram posts.”
What is the outcome of this practice? According to Matt, it lowers our self esteem and he questions why we neglect our mental health in this way. He is right of course especially if one compares the attention we direct towards meeting our physical health needs as opposed to managing our own mental stability.
Matt identifies a growing dependency on social media and reflects on his own tendency to depend upon social media and which he believes led to a recent bout of anxiety that he has linked to his growing dependency on this social epidemic.
He has also identified the need to accept a different view of one.
This reminds me of the skills of an accredited family mediator who is always looking to revitalise the skills of the parties he or she is mediating for and to ask what it is they hope to achieve, rather than what other people expect of them.
In turn, the personal skills of a mediator relate to seeking the best from a person in terms of rebuilding honesty and trust in themselves and each other.
Matt Haig’s book caught my interest as review in “The Metro”. It is anticipated to be a best seller and it contains Matt’s findings about individual human traits, for example, he refers to women’s ability to talk and identify how people are feeling, as opposed to men for whom it can be more difficult to talk in this way.
In all mediation cases, there is one party who is far more at ease talking about their personal wishes and needs. The process requires both parties to listen to one another and to enable the mediator to hear what is being said by each on an equal and fair basis so that there is complete transparency and understanding.
I move into the realm of children which is especially pertinent to the world of family mediation. The growth in equal parenting of children requires both parents to consider the possible effects that social media has on children and to help in trying to avoid the pressures of the need to compare our lives with the impossibly perfect lives put forward by others on, say, Instagram.
Within mediation, I encourage parents to concentrate on these external influences that affect the judgement of young and old in terms of our own expectations and of what we interpret as being human and normal behaviour.
So, we have to ask the question “Are we in control of our own wishes and expectations or has the pendulum gone too far the other way?” How, therefore are children able to make sense of what is expected of them and what rules need to be put in place for their benefit to thrive in this great and confusing world when the influence comes not from their parents but from external sources such as social media. The writing is on the wall and parents need to work together regardless of whether they live together or separately.
Matt Haig refers to smoking and alcohol and the acceptance that cigarettes are potentially life-threatening. This is now recognised and, so, he compares “the impact of tech” as having a similarly life threatening physical or mental effect and he encourages the need to start becoming more mindful of our behaviour and the effects of this addiction. I agree that we need to be aware and I look forward to seeing more about how we can control our relationship with social media as a way of protecting us from being ruled by our phones and indirectly by others in quite a sinister way.
Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, Accredited Family Mediator, at Wynn Mediation.
Contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: 01702 341241
TM, Wynn Mediation July 2018