The creative sector took a hard hit during the pandemic. Most of the industry was shut down, and for many, it was as if the world had stopped. This presented a stark juxtaposition to what was happening at home, as people streamed movies and consumed content at a record pace.
Inevitably, during this prolonged period of isolation, many turned to social media to stay connected and entertained. But instead of keeping us connected, the increased use of social media led to spikes in both anxiety and depression. One study even suggests that social media doesn’t just elevate mental health issues—it causes them.
Increase in Broad-Based Social Media Use Led to Less Connection and More Anxiety
Social media gives us a 24/7 window into people’s lives, and it usually isn’t an accurate one. Curated and filtered feeds can feed into a sense of comparison and cause stress. The easy answer is to just log off, but we live in a world where life (and even work) without social media doesn’t really seem possible—and yet, we are seeing people log off of certain social media platforms.
Vox found in a survey of its readers that the increased anxiety and feelings of isolation as a result of spending more time on social media led many to leave broad-based social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. In a 2019 study conducted by Origin Hill, their research arm found that 34% of Gen Zers were leaving social media, and various reports and studies have indicated this exile has increased during the pandemic. There are multiple reasons for their leaving, but the top two reasons? It’s a waste of time and far too negative.
Instead of leaving social media altogether, the Vox study shows that readers sought out safe havens with niche social media communities. Niche social platforms allow people with common interests to easily connect, creating a heightened sense of community and more positive interactions. In contrast, when we open up our larger mainstream apps like Facebook and Twitter, it often feels less like a community and more like we’re stepping into the unknown, bracing ourselves for the onslaught of politics, individuals oversharing, trolls, and simply overconsumption of news (both real and fake). More and more people are seeking out niche platforms as a safe and healthy alternative.
Why Creatives Are Seeking Community
So how did the entertainment industry respond to this? When the world came to a halt, one niche social media platform provided an outlet for creatives to connect and share ideas. Stage 32 allows people from every segment of the entertainment industry to network and learn.
Those who join the community are immediately connected to others in their industry and given access to educational content to take their skills to the next level.
Simply put, people get more out of niche platforms and communities, because of their shared interests and similar values. More importantly, they get a sense of connection. The isolation caused by the pandemic has certainly led most to seek out supportive communities. Niche social networks are providing that exact environment. Even where there are hundreds of thousands of people on the platform, there is still a strong sense of connection due to the shared interest and empathy that comes from people with similar pursuits and goals.
Stay Connected Through Social Media in a Healthy Way to Protect Your Mental Health
People don’t have to forsake online connections entirely to preserve their mental health. Instead, it’s time to be more deliberate about the communities you choose to partake in. “To preserve our mental health and stay connected with one another, we don’t have to leave all of the social media,” says Stage 32 founder, Richard “RB” Botto. “Instead, we need to create and find more niche social platforms that match our interests and values.” Stage 32 upholds policies like no trolling, spamming, or abusive language, which led to the community becoming self-regulating and extremely positive, regardless of background or skill level. This is important for an industry like entertainment that is typically rife with criticism and comparison.
Whether you want to stay connected with others in your industry, a particular fitness community, music fan community, or even a baking community, niche social media platforms can help us reap the positives of social media and actually enhance our mental health.