This article in The Real Review empowered me with a great model for thinking about mental health and happiness. It opened my eyes to the fact that most of the stuff available to us in popular culture can be quite toxic and doesn't help our wellbeing. Other people's status updates, celebrities, fashion, etc. It helped me decide to leave Instagram and care less about trying to be always up-to-date with everything.
The main metaphor of the article is that most of the information we consume is similar to junk food: it is available everywhere, it's cheap, it looks delicious, and is great to have once in a while. However, junk food doesn’t meet our nutritional needs and can be quite toxic.
In a similar way, the author says that junk values promoted by popular culture don’t meet our underlying psychological needs — to have meaning and connection in our lives.
These values usually celebrate extrinsic things: beauty, youth, possessions, success. They're a drug, and don't help us achieve enduring happiness at all. Yet, our culture constantly pushes us to live extrinsically.
I couldn't find the entire article online so I reproduce it here (without permission):
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