Students Should Re-examine Preoccupation With Social Media

Maeve Handley, Staff Writer

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Using social media is fun. You can connect to your old classmates, friends you made at summer camp, and stay in touch with family members from other states or even countries. However, it isn’t fun enough to constantly have to worry about the amount of likes you get, and rely on them to boost your self esteem. People, especially in our generation, have become so caught up in social media. They are much more sensitive to the amount of likes, re-blogs, re-tweet, etc. We all want to be heard and liked – when we don’t get as many likes as someone else, it affects us. We are constantly reminded of this pressure whenever we log onto our accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and so forth.

Many teenagers have a habit of comparing themselves to pictures online of highly photoshopped celebrities (if you don’t, congrats!). These days it’s much more ever present. With all the social media sites you can also compare yourself to the person who you sits next to in Algebra, your neighbor, and all of your friend’s friends. “I’m so ugly, if only I looked like them people would like me a lot more,” might pop into teenagers’ heads when a picture with an unreasonable amount of likes pops up.

What people often don’t think of is how many filters the person in the picture went through, how many times they retook the photo, and how easy it is to change your appearance on a screen. This creates a skewed perception, making it much easier for the viewers to compare themselves unfavorably. It sends the message that to be successful in our society you have to be pretty and over emphasises the value of looks. Popularity is associated with the amount of attention people receive from the internet because others judge it based on how many likes has, which is often related to the way they look. When someone gets 100,000 likes on a picture or video, they become “*insert social site* Famous.” Everyone wants that feeling: that complete strangers think that you are gorgeous, hot, funny or smart.

The internet isn’t a nice place. Yes, it helps with the paper you are working on, or getting in touch with someone quickly whose number you don’t have. However, it also seems to constantly be judging you behind your back. Count the number of weight loss ads you find, or ads on how to get rid of acne or stretch marks, and then compare yourself with person with 1,000,000 likes who looks “perfect.” There’s a lot of things that seem to point out what is wrong with you. A common thought throughout teenage and young adult years is that maybe if you didn’t have those “imperfections” people would like you more. So called imperfections happen as normal parts of growing up though, but because that one person with a zillion likes, or that one super awesome celebrity, doesn’t have them, they’re considered ugly.

With all this technology linking us to everyone, it’s really easy to get caught up in how many people you are “friends” with. They aren’t actually your friends, as you know, yet so much of your self esteem rests on their shoulders. They help boost it. If they like your photo, you get a nice dose of self esteem. If they get more likes than you, a not so nice dose of questioning your ability to look as nice or be as cool as the others.

It’s ridiculous, how much access we have to peoples lives, and how we are able to see who’s with who at any given moment. Sometimes when you find out that others are together you might wonder “Why wasn’t I invited? What’s so wrong with me?”

What I think people need to realize is that you can’t compare your life to someone else’s depending on how it looks in a Facebook picture. Others choose how they want to present themselves online, and may think about it a lot. People are always doing those “photo shoots and taking mirror pictures at the mall”. Next time, really think “do I want to always have a camera with me, or do I just want to live in the moment.” After all, maybe one of these days you will lose that camera and be forced to (and maybe its better that way!) I do give you props however if you can honestly say that it doesn’t bother you when you see pictures of your friends hanging out all together and not question your importance. I think that everyone can find ways to change the way they approach their social media and use it to their benefit, instead of letting it control them.

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