When I opened Twitter earlier this week and saw a Tumblr screenshot of how to help someone with a panic attack going around and being criticized, I wasn’t really surprised. The image mentions that, when you see someone have a panic attack, you should grab the person and give them a tight hug, whether they want it or not, and rock them back and forth. It’s a pretty great example of how not to help someone during a panic attack, and how to make matters worse.
Social media doesn’t have the best reputation, and there are some good reasons for that. It’s the perfect breeding ground for negativity, hurtful opinions, fake news and unrealistic body standards. But it’s here to stay, so why not try to make the best of it? In fact, when used correctly, social media can be a very helpful tool when it comes to managing and improving our mental health.
This week started with #jegtrordeg (Jeg Tror Deg, Norwegian for ‘I Believe You’) trending pretty much everywhere in Norway. People were holding protests all over the country, including right next to my apartment in Oslo, after a young woman’s three rapists were found not guilty in court. I’m sad that three guys who drugged and raped a young girl are still walking around freely, but I’m also happy that people are using this hashtag to ask for justice and support rape victims. No one should go through this alone.
Unfortunately, when checking social media in the evening, I discovered a different type of narrative as well. The hashtag had started spreading messages of hate, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming as well. “Why does everyone always assume the guys are lying?”, “Girls just don’t want to take responsibility for their actions”, “#notallmen”, “They behave like sluts and then they blame the men”, “If I leave my door unlocked I shouldn’t be surprised to get my stuff stolen”, etc.