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Social media is a toxic mirror
February 7, 2022
Social media is a toxic environment. It gives people a sense of false reality, telling them what their lives should be like. It tells everyone what they should look like by filling their feed with videos of what society finds attractive.
Covid held responsible
Teens attending school online have struggled with making connections. Normally, friendships would appear as if from nowhere. As a result, teens are stressed about their appearance online, since it is the only way people perceive them. Counseling Northwestern says “additionally, negative mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, dissociation, and disrupted sleep can begin to manifest physically.”
Along with picking new friends they are also judging old ones. Teens are making the difficult choice of who to stay connected with because of “insensitive posts related public health restrictions, racial justice and other social issues at the forefront of social media discussions,” as stated by Counseling Northwestern.
Teens are unsure of what to post because they are fearful of judgement. They are able to provide themselves with a social media mask and cover up who they are. Some choose not to post at all but others break under pressure. COVID has now caused social media to be the only self identify teenagers have and to hold the only sense of self-worth they were born with.
Movies, magazines, and television have created the idea of what the ideal women or man should look like and how they should act. In the same way, social media has followed in their footsteps. Time blames social media for its effects on “body confidence.”
Time points to a study done by psychologists linking social media to body image concerns, dieting, body surveillance, a drive for thinness, and self-objectification in adolescents. The study is not blaming social media for causing these problems but is making a strong connection to them.
Teenagers everywhere are being told what they should look like and what their life should look like. They are shown videos of other teenagers having fun, but if that is all they see they start to get the perspective that is all that is out there. Nobody’s life is going to be an exact replica of their for you page or Instagram feed but most will try. A misshapen reality now begins to seep in.
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok provide tools that allow teens to seek approval for their appearance and compare themselves to others. Teens and millennials are being influenced to use apps to alter their appearance. Everything a person sees on social media is fake, but not everyone is aware of this rule. However, one must live by this, or they will start to seek a sense of reality that does not exist.
People are starting to believe the more they work on their appearance the better it will get. Young people are starting to believe they can decide how they look. Instead of trying to become comfortable with themselves they decide to change so much they lose their self-identity. This enhances the illusion of control over one’s appearance. This also enhances the false sense that how you look is the only thing that matters.
This want for change is stemming social media. People seek the false reality they are seeing online and then begin to try to recreate it. However, they cannot create it so they fall short.
A projected 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up. According to Tech Times about half of those users start with social media. When scrolling on social media, one is looking at various types of content per minute. Posts from friends, family, celebrities, influencers, and brands.
People are asking the question: why does someone stay on social media if it is damaging their sense of reality. An article by Counseling Northwestern blames the fear of missing out. Social anxiety is the key to why people compulsively scroll through social media. Others point to validation. Young people feel the need to hold their self-worth on the amount of likes they get on a picture. Feeding off this validation becomes a cycle of unfulfilling activities.
The art of comparison becomes a state of mind. Basing one’s self-identity off who one is online becomes a chore. One must keep up their appearance online to show the world who they are or who they want the world to think they are.