Recognizing downsides to social media

Mackenzie Coughlin, Staff Writer

Social media has changed the lives of millions ever since it was invented. Everyone sees these platforms and apps as a way of fast communication and connection worldwide. However, there is always a bad side to something good, especially when it deals with putting one’s entire life online, forever.

Typically, social media programs like Instagram and Snapchat are introduced to children at around the age of twelve or thirteen. This already vulnerable age is becoming increasingly vulnerable as we enter a solely technology-based generation.

My eleven-year-old brother has accounts on multiple social media apps and has for a few years. When young kids are exposed to the world this way, it can change their perception of themselves and the world for the worse. A person’s mind isn’t fully developed until the age of twenty-five, so it is most likely that the negativities of social media will hurt someone mentally.

My first negative opinion about social media is how much it consumes our lives. I find myself, and many other people, resorting to endless scrolling to spend their time when they could be doing something productive. In the long run, seeing “Stacy’s” recent photo or “Chad’s” Snapchat story is not going to better or improve yourself. In reality, it will make you think, “Why can’t I be more like her?” or “I wish I was invited to that party.”

Social media also has the power to tear apart friendships. This generation has made social media such a prevalent part of society that it has become inescapable. There are a lot of instances where friends communicate through cell phones more than in person. This can start to become dangerous when one creates two sides to themselves. From personal experience, it is very much possible, and unfortunately common, for teens to act differently on social media than in person. One starts to question whether or not a person is genuine and true at heart.

Another downside to social media is that it distracts people from living in the moment. Instead of having a good time with others and creating memories, it becomes a priority to document the experience by posting for others to see. I have seen people do this exact thing in front of my eyes, and I watch them miss out on the little memories because they were busy posting a photo or video of the event instead.

A major problem among teens when it comes to social media is the comparison of themselves to what they see of others online. This can create a mountain of stress and anxiety in a person’s life, especially when they don’t know anything different. Comparing one’s lowest points in life to someone else’s highlight reel on Instagram will never bring satisfaction.

To better myself, as well as to create an experiment, I deleted the app Instagram from my phone in December of 2018. Since then, I have caught myself multiple times wondering what I was missing and worrying if my friends would think differently of me. With time, I realized that I was less stressed and was reaching for my phone less and less. This experiment is not for everyone, but it is important to evaluate and to possibly readjust your relationship with social media.