Jesy Nelson: The dark side of social media

Social media can be fantastic. It allows you to keep in contact with your nearest and dearest; it can open your eyes to people, places and cultures; or it can just be great for providing lols and passing the time.

But it also has a darker side. It creates an anonymity and distance that makes some people feel like they can get away with behaviour that they wouldn’t consider in real life, or say things that they wouldn’t say face-to-face.

The good, the bad and the ugly

Jesy is no stranger to the good, the bad and the ugly sides of social media. In fact, she says that social media has "completely changed" her life.

Jesy has been the victim of online trolling since winning the X-Factor in 2011. In our video she describes how she came offstage after the final show feeling "on cloud nine" to find "101 inbox messages." The first one she opened said:

How on Earth were you ever put in this girl band? You deserve to die.

Jesy describes her relationship with social media as “50-50”. It's a great way “to engage with my fans and share a part of my life that I love,” she says, but the negative side is that people are able to say "whatever they want about you.”

"The whole world had an opinion on me," she says in her documentary, "and they weren’t good ones. From the minute those comments started, it became the worst time of my life."

On the night she won the X-Factor, Jesy received a message saying "you deserve to die".

Take control

When Jesy was at her lowest, her mum says that she felt like she'd "lost Jesy to social media."

Social media is "ruining a lot of people’s lives," says Jesy, "we all need to talk more about how this is really making us feel."

The thing about social media is that you don’t have to be on it. It may feel like you do, but you don’t... You can control which apps you use, who you accept as a ‘friend’, who you respond to and how long you spend online.

Just like Jesy did. In her video on body image, Jesy says that she deleted Twitter so she couldn’t read the negative comments that people were posting about her. She took control of her online life, and so can you.

Jesy deleted the apps that were making her unhappy.

Take action

  • Delete apps that are having a negative impact on you. Whether it's that you're receiving mean comments or that the images and content are making you feel insecure - get rid.

  • Report people who are mean to you and block them. Most apps will allow you to do both of these things. Remember, you can 'unfriend' people any time and 'unfollow' any account that makes you feel bad.

  • Make social media your 'happy place.' Make the decision to only follow, watch, read or interact with people or content that inspires you, uplifts you and expands your horizons.

  • Take a digital detox and use social media in moderation. If you use it a lot during the day, take a few hours away from it in the evening, or vice-versa. Exploring the world beyond your screen and interacting with people who know and love you in real life can also really help to put things into perspective.

You can find more advice about how to manage your social media in our article on How to love yourself more (and social media less).

You can find lots more advice and support about social media online. You could start by exploring our advice on the Bitesize Support pages. You could read:

You could also visit Childline or Young Minds.

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