“People have depression, people have anxiety and people are hurting,” says the former Love Island contestant.
In 2017, scientists revealed that the “regular use of social networking can negatively affect your emotional wellbeing and satisfaction with life” – and we don’t doubt it. After all, maintaining that aura of ‘perfection’ takes a great deal of effort, scrolling through your news feed can spark feelings of envy and FOMO, and having so much of your life on show can feel a little overwhelming at times.
This is true even for celebrities who are used to being in the spotlight – and it is something which Montana Brown, who first shot to fame on Love Island, has spoken about this week.
On 16 March, Mike Thalassitis – who appeared on the same series of Love Island as Brown – was found dead in a north London park. The 26-year-old had tragically taken his own life, it was later confirmed.
And, in an emotional Instagram post, Brown revealed that the death of her friend had forced her to have “a long hard think about life and what’s important”, noting that, “from the outside”, Thalassitis appeared to have it all.
“From the outside and from my viewpoint, Mike had it all,” she said. “Literally everyone, female and male, recognised what a catch he was. [But] the reason that everybody thinks he had it all [is] because that’s the part of his life he chose to share and really he was so much more. He was such an amazing human and I’m going to miss him a lot.”
Brown continued: “So I wanted to say, Instagram is a place where we all like to show off, what luxury hotels we stay at, our glowing Dom Perignon bottles, our designer shoes and clothes. Taking a step back, looking at everyone else’s posts whilst I was cooped up and eating cakes, sweets, bagels [and] biscuits, Instagram made me feel worse as I felt all I was looking at is people’s perfect lives.
“And that’s the point. Life is not as peachy as everyone makes out.”
Brown went on to say: “People have depression, people have anxiety and people are hurting and I want people to feel like they can talk about it openly to parents, siblings, or friend. But the point is, nobody is perfect and life is definitely not perfect, so I apologise to you if I make out like my life is perfect, because it’s not.
“What has been perfect, though, is my beautiful friends who have lifted me up, my amazing boyfriend who has emotionally been so stable for me, getting to know Mikes beautiful and wonderful family/friends. I am just so gutted that this horrible awful death is the reason for all of this happening, but I have to take the good from what’s happened as overthinking is useless because it won’t change the outcome.
“What I can change is, the way I live my life and the way I treat others… that’s how people should be judged.”
Brown finished by saying: “Be nice to your loved ones, build them up, ask them if they’re ok, encourage them to be the best person they can be, be sure to tell them their best qualities and what you love about them.
“If everybody did this, the world would be a better place.”
Dr Guillermo Perez Algorta and David Baker recently conducted a review of all the research on the links between social networking and depression, examining studies from 14 countries with 35,000 participants aged between 15 and 88.
In doing so, they identified certain online behaviours which have a “significant association” with depression – suggesting that steering clear of these could reduce your chances of falling victim to social media-induced misery.
The biggest trigger, they found, came from envy triggered by observing others – and with making “negative social comparisons”.
If this sounds like you, Algorta and Bake suggest you look at your own social media feeds. Chances are, what you see is a highly edited version of your real life: the highlights, rather than the sad/tedious/ugly bits. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others through the lens of social media, remind yourself that nobody’s life is perfect – even if it seems like it on Facebook.
For information and support about mental health issues, visit mind.org.uk.