TORONTO – A Canadian social media influencer has learned that even online honesty is the best policy.
Not long ago Caitlin Fladager was on the road to fame on the Internet. She had hundreds of thousands of followers, appeared on American television and was even approached about a product placement agreement.
But while B.C., a 25-year-old woman externally displayed all the signs of a rising star, something very different was happening in her head.
“I spent all day in bed. I was going through a deep depression, ”Fladager said on Wednesday at CTV's Your Morning.
"I was looking at my Instagram and other people, and how they always post these happy pictures every day, and I wasn't feeling that way.
"It got to the point where I got up and prepared just for the picture – and just went back to bed and posted saying I'm happy when I wasn't."
Fladager never intended to become famous on Instagram.
She began sharing her life with the world when she was 18 and pregnant. Somehow, people began to realize.
"I don't know exactly how it started. I kept posting about my being pregnant with her, and my relationship with her father, and it kind of rolled over from there," she said.
The numbers continued to rise, as did online interactions, but it took a real-world meeting with a fan for Fladager to realize the extent of his celebrity.
“I was like, 'Wow, this is real; people know who I am; people are looking at me & # 39; & # 39 ;, she said.
Knowing the reality of her fame, Fladager was more determined than ever to present the image his followers expected of her – even if she knew it was a complete illusion. The feeling of being a fraud continued to erode it, causing increasing anxiety and depression.
Last year, Fladager decided it was time to stop hiding. Messages about your mental health began to appear in your social network posts. Although some followers have disconnected them, she has found a new audience talking about the mental pressures that come with influencer status.
"I don't feel that pressure anymore," she said.
“I feel like I can take pictures without having to do my makeup and my hair – I feel much freer.”
Freedom is not a feeling often associated with social media. This year alone, researchers found that social media use correlates with depression symptoms in adolescents, that frequent social media activity impairs the mental health of teenage girls and that people who post many selfies are viewed as insecure and unlikely. – probably the opposite of what the selfie stars expected. Social media pressure was cited as a factor behind an increase in suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts among children.
To counter these concerns, social platforms have begun to remove some of their most addictive and anxiety-provoking features. Instagram was removed as it has photos earlier this year and now it's supposedly ready to prevent users from seeing which accounts are followed by individual users. Facebook has also tried to hide likes.
For Fladager, however, showing his true face helped more than any change brought about by any social media platform. She still has over 250,000 Instagram followers – about the name number she had before sharing a fake lifestyle – plus 450,000 Facebook fans and nearly 60,000 on Twitter.
"Everyone goes through depression and anxiety, and I think it makes people feel less and less alone when people with more followers talk openly," she said.