Facebook algorithms generate targeted ads and suggested groups that can feel like a personal attack. One day after your wedding and Facebook is plastering Huggies Little Snugglers diaper ads across one third of your newsfeed. Or, maybe you’re newly single and suddenly Facebook thinks you might want to join the “Cooking for One” culinary group. Presumptuous. Invasive. Off-putting.
I, however, am most peeved at the (seemingly targeted) quizzes that continually appear, beckoning me to check out how “OCD” I am. First of all, I already have the answer to that question, and, more importantly, no amount of disorganized pencils or irregularly patterned bathroom tiles will ever properly represent a mental illness diagnosis. While kitschy and perhaps a sufficient 5 minute paper-writing break, quizzes such as these are damaging to the mainstream understanding of mental illness. For instance, Facebook users who engage with this quiz, and also lack personal experience with mental illness, may believe that OCD is solely defined by frivolous, detail-oriented behaviors.
While social media can often serve as breeding ground for misinformation about various mental health issues, there are countless sources working tirelessly to educate and provide support. Here are a few of my favorites:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) blog
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Twitter account
- International OCD Foundation Facebook page