Growing up in a small town, I had dreamed of getting out and exploring the world and doing marvelous things. But to do that, we need money, education and a good head on your shoulders (mentally, not physically – although it seems attractiveness is the answer). The concept of bettering myself became clear, but the journey is always unknown. So, that’s when we turn to someone above, someone who has experienced it. Learn from their mistakes, absorb a healthy structure into our daily lives that then flourishes into a healthier and happier life. Sounds good and easy, right?
This concept of self-development has been around for years. But, today, in the era of internet technologies and a saturated market, who is real and who is fake? Taking on the role of being an influencer, you have a lot of responsibilities. The nature of this topic is very personal and sensitive. So, why do I see a large majority of people who are self-taught self-help gurus flooding social media rather then educated clinical psychologists or trained spiritual healers. I discovered this problem the deeper I went into my newsfeed. The algorithms handed me Instagram influencers with a passion for self-help instead of trained clinicians.
Why is this an issue?
Mental health should be taken very seriously. Yes, people can show their support by sharing content etc. But the issue arises when influencers who are not accredited or educated in the field, claim to have the answer. Mental health has always been a personal interest of mine. As Sarah Wall (2006) states, an initial engagement with a research topic occurs with an discovery of an intense interest that is not only meaningful, but has broader social implications. I believe this research topic would take the interest of others. Purely because, we can agree that social media influencers in the marketing spectrum take over our news feed, leaving the educated and accredited ones behind.
So how will I carry out this research task?
Through observation and autoethnography, I hope to obtain new knowledge about this topic as well as define a problematic feature, and narrow my focus on that aspect and synthesize it with theoretical frameworks. I hope to find an understanding of the broader social implications this problem has a input in.
The process will be a process itself, I have no clear indication on how exactly I will carry out this research task, or other elements and concepts that arise as I dive deeper. But at this point, I aim to follow more and examine influential accounts, both the educated and ‘claimed to be’. I will take part in journaling personally and observing others interactions with these accounts. In my journaling adventures, I will take note on my emotions, the time and place that I am engaging with the posts, and what type of posts they are. For example, late at night I scroll through an account with motivational quotes. Why is that? Do I want to reflect on it, and make a better day tomorrow? Or I find myself saving posts about anxiety and meditation. And why do I go on social media instead of helpful resources like Beyond Blue? This question bothers me.
My loose schedule.
Wall, Sarah (2006) An Autoethnography on Learning about Autoethnography, International Journal of Qualitative Methods 5 (2).