Have you noticed recently how ‘social networking’ has become a problem?
The viral YouTube poem, ‘Look Up’ reminds us how much time we spend looking down at our technology instead of looking up and making eye contact with other people. Of course, if we are suffering from social anxiety then making eye contact may be a problem for us but, when other support isn’t available, then texting may be a lifeline. It’s not that simple, is it?
Another item culled from the internet tells us that social networking can become an addiction, just as much as alcohol or drugs. That may sound a warning bell with many of us. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you might google social networking addiction – which will almost certainly take you round in a circle that leads you to more social networks – some of them actually very helpful! Again, it’s just not that simple.
But social networking has always existed. It used to mean that people used their family / social class / old school tie – groups which shut out the rest of us – to give them an extra leg-up. Social networks today are much more inclusive.
Communication has always has its downside, but . . .
Talking to one another has always had its downside: families feud, friends fight, colleagues clash – but that certainly doesn’t mean that we should stop talking. Also, not all social networking means keeping our eyes fixed on a screen.
For example, a lot of Mark’s time is spent turning up at meetings as a real human being to represent Orb at local Mental Health Forums, NYCC Public Health Groups, Clinical Commisioning Groups, Healthwatch and interacting with like-minded organisations across the North ( and beyond). The Duke of York’s Initiative Award alone brings Orb into contact with local groups – again, real, live people – whose expertise ranges through art, music, gardening, creativity generally – oh, and mental wellbeing!
People struggling with mental ill-health are the least likely to have their voices heard in society unless someone speaks up on their behalf. Talking to real people in real time will never go out of fashion at Orb – it’s a basic human need.
But let’s not forget the upside of digital!
Just think of all of the people – service users, staff, volunteers – who come in to Orb to engage in music, art, IT, gardening and just happen to engage with other people as a result. Just happen to perform in gigs, provide sound and lighting and recording for the local community, just happen to help the garden grow, bake cakes to bring the public into FEVA events, just happen to share their art with Knaresborough and Harrogate.
Many of the people who join Orb find us on the internet. Facebook helps us all to keep in touch with the latest Orb events, add feedback and encouragement to one another and keep mental health issues in the public eye. mrorbhead tweets the latest news and ideas about mental wellbeing, especially those related to art and music.
Following other organisations online keeps us up to date with the latest news, research and insight into everything relating to mental health. Organisations such as Mind, Rethink, the Mental Health Foundation and many more are endless sources of information.
And it’s great to have so many means of promoting Orb, whether this means reaching individuals with influence in the community, like MP Andrew Jones, raising awareness in and around Knaresborough about the great work we do, or simply telling the world about the vital importance of mental wellbeing.