{Guest Post} Social Media and Mental Health by Mariya Ksondzyk

Mariya Ksondzyk is a Ukrainian-American violist and violinist currently residing in Boston. Her music account on Instagram, which has over 25k followers, has been featured in Strings Magazine and the Boston Voyager. We are delighted to share this guest post with you about Mariya’s experience with and advice about using social media.

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Social media is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse of the 21st century. Some people love it and thrive on it, and others find it to be a source of extreme anxiety.

There are plenty of websites and resources that will tell you how to succeed at social media, how to gain more followers and how to engage them, how to build your brand, and which hashtags to use.

Rather than doing that, I want to talk about how to have a healthy relationship with social media instead. Because social media isn’t just an app we have on our phones; it’s a tool that we use on a daily basis to interact with others and how we see the world. It’s a huge part of our lives, and it has increasingly been altering what reality is for us.

It’s important to have online presence as a classical musician; posting updates and videos of your playing is the best way to put your name on the map and to network with other artists around the world. It’s really an extension of your resume, since it can show different sides of you as a musician that can’t be crammed into a short bio.

However, I have to increasingly remind myself that my Instagram is just another thing that I do and has nothing to do with my identity and my self-worth. It’s very easy to see the amount of likes you have on a post or the number of followers you have as being equal to your value as a musician. And that is simply not healthy. So social media can be very deceiving in many ways, especially since we can be a completely different person on it than we are in real life. Seeing the tailored positive posts of others makes it easy to believe that you are inferior and that your life isn’t as perfect as theirs. You see them giving concerts in amazing halls, you see the finished product, but you don’t see them posting about how they struggled with playing scales this morning the same way you did.

The key to avoiding falling in this trap is to rethink your relationship with social media. The most wonderful part about being on Instagram is meeting amazing new people and networking with other musicians. I’ve met a composer who wrote a piece for me, I’ve messaged back and forth with world-famous soloists, and I’ve posted about issues that people all over the world replied that they can relate to.

If you’re going to be focusing on comparing yourself to others or obsessing about how many followers you have, then social media will always give you anxiety and will always wear down on your mental health. That is how resentment and jealousy and frustration is formed. Instead, focusing on you: focus on making posts that inspire you as an artist, share your progress, and engage with your audience. Focus on networking and on contributing to this large, surprisingly supportive online community where people share their art.

Social media is a great tool for assisting with your career and with your work as an artist, but it should never be your whole identity.

Contributed by Mariya Ksondzyk.

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Chenoa Orme-Stone