You’ve heard it before. Your Facebook newsfeed is probably making you anxious, lonely and sad. But is it really that bad?

Working with teens battling anorexia and eating disorders at the Montreal Children’s hospital for the last seven years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the debilitating effects that social media can have on our mental health and wellbeing.

The young patients often struggle with unattainable body images and anxiety as they navigate daily stresses and difficult emotions through the lens of algorithm-driven platforms that indulge comparison, highlight reels and judgement.

According to a recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health, depression, bullying, and sleep quality are some of the most common health issues exacerbated by social media use at any age. Other studies have found an increased correlation between heavy social media use and feelings of isolation. Even before COVID-19, many western countries, including the U.S. and U.K., reported that more than half of their adult population suffer from loneliness. 

Now, with the global pandemic taking a mental health toll, more people are seeking meaningful connections and support online. There has never been a more urgent need for a new paradigm of social networks that prioritizes our wellbeing, helping us lift each other up instead of tearing each other down.

That’s why I am building Blawesome, a supportive online community on a mission to tap into the collective wisdom of like-minded people.  Powered by science and technology, Blawesome is a part of the emerging generation of social wellness platforms that offer inspiration, accountability and encouragement, helping you reach your goals while learning something new or sharing your own insights.

We know that true healing happens in community. But while the popular social media networks hook people through their most unevolved, primal brain urges: comparison, fear, scarcity, panic, Blawesome promotes gratitude, compassion, empathy and playfulness, emotions usually associated with increased activity in the prefrontal cortex.

Why? We are not in the business to keep your eyeballs glued to your phone. We believe that technology is a powerful tool that can enable a meaningful connection, and add value to people’s lives. Blawesome doesn’t sell your data for profit. The algorithms are designed to match community members on similar paths who can support each other and walk each other home.

As a wellbeing coach with more than 15 years of experience, I truly believe that there is nothing more powerful than a coach-student relationship. That’s why I am making it easier for high quality coaches and students to find each other, while receiving community support. Meanwhile, the technology is designed to help integrate new habits and transformations, as well as make the coach’s job easier with a one stop shop for content, booking, video or audio conference, and follow up.

Continuing a Legacy that was Cut Short from Lung Cancer

The power of a supportive community has been a key theme in my life and family. Before becoming the Clinical Director at Portage, a non-profit rehabilitation center in Quebec, my father, Leo Kruidbos, had a pretty rock and roll lifestyle. A young immigrant born in Indonesia, Leo had been in and out of Montreal's foster care as a teen, and abused heroine in his 20s.

Portage offer a therapeutic community environment that has helped tens of thousands of people develop the self-esteem and confidence to have agency in their lives.

I grew up seeing firsthand the struggles that stem from a lack of support or self-love. My dad gave jobs around our property in the countryside to many of the recovering addicts trying to get back on their feet. I witnessed how someone can reach their highest potential when treated with compassion, encouragement and trust.

My dad died of cancer on December 22, 1999, just before opening a brand new rehabilitation center in Montreal. He was 50 and I was 17. 

In many ways, Blawesome is continuing the legacy he started. The world has changed a lot since 1999. This is the 21st century tech version of his dream to offer people a consistent community of inspiration and support. 

Let’s Blawesome together! 

The Blawesome (blawesome.life) community is looking for coaches in health, relationships and business. Search Blawesome in the Apple or Google Play store. Download and create a free profile.

Sources:

1  Chiu, Allyson. "Patients are desperate to resemble their doctored selfies. Plastic surgeons alarmed by 'Snapchat dysmorphia.'". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-10-28.

2 "'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Points To A Troubling New Trend In Plastic Surgery". HuffPost. 2018-02-22. Retrieved 2020-10-28.

3 "Snapchat's History: Evolution Of Snapchat And Timeline (2020)". BuyCustomGeofilters.com. Retrieved 2020-10-28.

4 Ramphul, Kamleshun; Mejias, Stephanie G (2018). "Is "Snapchat Dysmorphia" a Real Issue?". Cureus. 10 (3): e2263. doi:10.7759/cureus.2263. ISSN2168-8184. PMC5933578. PMID29732270.