So­cial me­dia shows NBA play­ers are just like us

The Tribune (SLO) - - Opinion - Ed­i­tor’s note: Editorials from other news­pa­pers are of­fered to stim­u­late de­bate and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the opin­ion of The Tri­bune. BY THE DAL­LAS MORN­ING NEWS

If ever there was a group of peo­ple we’d think wouldn’t have a care in the world, it would be NBA play­ers. Their wealth, tal­ent and fame are be­yond what any of us could imag­ine for our­selves.

But we were re­minded re­cently that, in some not-so-great ways, these tow­er­ing ath­letes are just like us.

It was dis­heart­en­ing to learn from NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver that he’s ob­served that many of this gen­er­a­tion of young men suf­fer from deep de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. One of the cul­prits: so­cial me­dia.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that so­cial me­dia has helped the league gain ex­po­sure and pro­mote play­ers, he said it also con­trib­utes to un­healthy com­par­isons and the gen­eral feel­ing of in­ad­e­quacy among the league’s play­ers. In other words, they ex­pe­ri­ence a re­al­time anal­y­sis of their per­for­mance.

What’s more, he lamented that hu­man in­ter­ac­tion and ca­ma­raderie have been re­placed by head­phones, iso­la­tion and per­va­sive feel­ings of lone­li­ness.

Sound fa­mil­iar? There’s mount­ing re­search that links the use of so­cial me­dia to de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and lower self-es­teem. Whether you’re a su­per­star ath­lete, a reg­u­lar Joe in the neigh­bor­hood or a high-school stu­dent, your men­tal health can be neg­a­tively af­fected by a con­stant feel­ing of “How’s my life stack­ing up?” com­pared to the bar­rage of happy pre­sented each day.

This news­pa­per for some time has raised con­cerns about how so­cial me­dia is chang­ing us as a so­ci­ety and hurt­ing us as a peo­ple. We’ve fo­cused on the fact that we are in­creas­ingly un­will­ing to con­sider ideas that are con­trary to our own bi­ases and be­liefs. We’re much more ea­ger to tune them out and buy into the divi- sive­ness. Many times, we don’t en­counter dif­fer­ing views at all in the stream of in­for­ma­tion that shows up in our cu­rated feeds.

And we worry that too many of us are en­am­ored with the per­fect lives that our neigh­bors and friends present on so­cial me­dia.

We re­al­ize that we’ve all used these plat­forms in harm­less ways to con­nect with fam­ily and share the mile­stones in our lives. But we also can’t lose sight that they can also have real dire con­se­quences on our well­be­ing.

It’s tempt­ing to dis­miss this in priv­i­leged ath­letes, with all the trap­pings of fame and for­tune. But Sil­ver, mak­ing the me­dia rounds to dis­cuss this is­sue, sug­gests that all the neg­a­tive feed­back these play­ers re­ceive is do­ing these hu­man be­ings great harm.

He re­counted a wor­ri­some con­ver­sa­tion with one player:

“He said to me, ‘From the time I get on the plane to when I show up in the arena for the game, I won’t see a sin­gle per­son.’ There was a deep sad­ness around him.”

We’re en­cour­aged that the NBA’s play­ers as­so­ci­a­tion has launched a new men­tal health and well­ness pro­gram to sup­port its play­ers, and that sev­eral teams have hired men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als as part of their staffs.

We can all use this as a les­son to seek help our­selves. Data shows that nearly 80 per­cent of us have a so­cial me­dia pro­file of some kind. And a big les­son here is that we need to con­sider hit­ting the off but­ton on these plat­forms from time to time.

BRYNN AN­DER­SON AP

Golden State War­riors guard Stephen Curry, cen­ter, sits on the bench dur­ing the sec­ond half of the team’s NBA bas­ket­ball game against the Mi­ami Heat in late Fe­bru­ary.

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