Social media has become one of the ground-roots of our society. We treat it as our morning paper when we wake up, a scrapbook for our memories/experiences, and use it as a magnifying glass to observe the great world around us. It’s also become one of the most toxic outlets for people in my generation. The likes, comments, and views are what continually drive us to fine-tune and push limits to create better content to educate, impress, and induce a reaction. However, I know through mine and other’s experience that it quickly can become a source of obsession/competition.
Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) enough, the idea from this post came from a late-night binge of Black Mirror Episodes-specifically Nosedive. After watching, I felt so called to speak up about the issue and the potential of what good and bad social media can do now and in our foreseeable future. Just like the characters in the episode, our society bases popularity off numbers. Not always a 5.0 scale, these numbers can be followers, subscribers, reposts, anything that measures hits. The higher number dictates a higher “success” rate, which drives a person, a business, or a movement forward.
On one end of the scale, I’ve witnessed how using social media platforms can boost a business, provide a space for an influencer to interact with an audience, and allow people to educate and express opinions and facts for the benefit of others. Employers look at LinkedIn to hire potential employees. People look up tutorials on Youtube. Heck, even I use social media to promote my blog. I know that it was intended for good purpose. It’s a place where I can express myself through words and image, and it allows me to see the whole world and a new crowd of people to connect with.
However, in recent years especially, a new flip side has emerged. People are relying more on social media to connect over face-to-face interaction. Comparison and jealousy is at an all-time high, and deceit is spreading like the common cold. People my age and younger are growing up too fast, our necks breaking from looking up to a mirage of a “perfect, happy life” that nine times out of ten isn’t even real.
This time around, I wanted to reach out to people who are connected with me to get their personal opinions on the matter. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I was curious to know how other people within a similar age as me felt, how social media plays a part in their lives. The issue with social media isn’t just limited to a small group of people, it’s everyone who uses it. We all have acknowledged the benefits, and felt the pain that can take up our minds. I was definitely impressed and actually relieved to know that so many thought the same way I did.
(Some entries have been edited for length and clarity purposes)
In terms of the bad side of social media:
“It’s easily addictive, and it can destroy your self-confidence”- Maggie, 18
“People post the best versions of themselves on social media, they don’t post normal things so people who are “‘less popular”‘ look at that as someone’s whole life and wish they had it”-Matthew, 17
“I personally think that social media sets up an unnecessary standard of perfection and an abnormal set of expectations that society is supposed to follow. I also think social media leads to a very false sense of perfection and authenticity. For example, a couple that posts pictures and videos that are “‘couple goals”‘ to the outside world, may not be perfect in reality. I just think social media can be really toxic and dangerous to impressionable young minds”-Lakshmi, 17
“The bad side is comparison and people hiding behind an account to purposely hurt others. People don’t get that words on a screen can damage someone”-Alyssa, 17
“Social media tends to be the filtered version of what someone’s life truly is. This can lead to self-confidence issues and a false sense of reality. Also, it has become an unavoidable vortex-like tool that can suck people away from real life and in turn, reduces people’s abilities to properly communicate with one another”- Gabrielle, 17
“It consumes people in things that don’t matter and distracting them from the more important things such as real life and face-to-face interactions. Many people compare themselves to others, they say things on social media that wouldn’t be said in person and just use it to make it seem like it’s okay to be mean or to be fake when it certainly isn’t”-Alonah, 18
What they think is beneficial about social media:
“It can help boost self-confidence, network products/services, it’s an easy way to stay in touch with people you don’t talk to as often”-Maggie, 18
“It makes it way easier to get in contact with old friends or just to see how a friend is doing”-Matthew, 17
“It can be used as a tool to communicate thoughts and express emotions freely. In a generally supportive atmosphere, it is easy to showcase your life and get a peek into the lives of others”-Lakshmi, 17
“It’s helping me grow closer to God. If you look in the right places you’ll find pages and people that are so positive and uplifting”-Alyssa, 17
“I believe that social media enables exposure to different important issues that are happening globally, while allowing people’s opinions to be heard”-Gabrielle, 17
“Social media makes it much easier to make connections and network with people, whether it’s for your blog, new friends, or even a career”- Emma from And Then Emma
“One of the absolute biggest things is being able to be relatable with others, especially in faith, not only in person but on social media since so many people use it. I think it can be fun to express your artsy side and express creativity if that’s how you want to, and the best, most important reason of all and why I want to keep social media is to share my faith. It’s such a good place to express that and let people see and hear the good news that we have the opportunity to share in more than one way”-Alonah, 18
My dear friend Madison posted this unfiltered picture on her Instagram a while back, sharing her testimony on social media and how she’s grown with it. So much truth!! Definitely worth the read. Additionally, a friend of mine sent me this video that dives into the psychological effects that social media has trained us to adopt. Also a really different and eye-opening perspective.
It’s enlightening to know that we aren’t alone in this type of socialization. There’s no doubt that it’s possible to experience all sides of the spectrum, good, bad, and ugly. However, I’ve learned so many ways to have balance between the real world and the online. I’m getting used to deleting social media if I find it filling up space where I could be doing something productive. I’ve rationalized how screen time isn’t anywhere near as beneficial as face time, and how in-person communication is vital for my happiness. Once I go off to college, I will probably experience full-force how great it is for keeping up with my friends, or staying in touch with my family.
Through reaching out to people and recounting my own experiences, I hope we can all be comforted knowing that social media is only the highlights. We know it’s real people putting their best foot forward, and comparing those highlights to our lowest struggles is apples to oranges. It’s all about perspective. If you want your opinion to be shown, or connected to this post in any way, make sure to leave a comment, or just say hello! Do your part to create a better side of social media.
Thank you to everyone who contributed!