Time to break up with social media

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Time to break up with social media

Neha Hemachandra, Opinion Editor

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Updates. Notifications. Posts. Our attention is devoured by every like, dislike and comment. Our self regard is shattered with the anticipation of societal judgement. Our connectivity is disbanded with the wave of digital isolation. It’s 2019, 95% of teens are constantly on the internet, according to the Pew Research Center. This digital influx with social media has had a significant impact in the recent increase of mental illness in students and we as individuals have the power to control how it affects our lives.

When it comes to social media, many users develop a sense of self worth derived from comparisons to others and the approval of others. People live on “likes” and the affirmation they receive from others. Many social media platforms thrive on the feature of the system of “likes” and “dislikes.” Although it offers an outlet for public opinion, it can be detrimental in the aspect of mental health. People begin to rely on “likes” and when they don’t receive their quota, it festers into disappointment or a negative self reflection.

Everyone has insecurities and self doubts, but when we are constantly bombarded with posts of aesthetically, perfected photos and status updates of only the best filtered aspects of others’ lives, it shoves us farther into the corner of self doubt, which allows for mental illness to creep in. The most dangerous influence of social media is that our self-perception has become the result of how we view our own lives in comparison to others.

“Peer influence and peer impression is so important to your own self identity at this age,” Head Guidance Counselor, Connie Sivertson said.

Even with a thousand followers, the negative comparisons we make online have the power to make us feel isolated and anxious.The sheer magnitude of social media’s presence in society has amplified these comparisons and negative reflections that we make which easily becomes the foundation for mental illness like depression and anxiety.

Because social media was formed as a “social” communication tool, it’s ironic how it has instead further isolated us. It has completely depleted us of human interaction and is leading us down the path of a dystopian future void of human contact and dependent solely on technologic innovation. How common is it these days that you walk into a social gathering and over half the people have their phones out? Our screens form a wall that prevents us from authentically communicating with one another and talking like human beings.

Society’s cultural immersion in social media also leaves us vulnerable to critical threats like cyberbullying. With the abundance of online platforms, there is an influx in access to so many different and random people that it leaves us susceptible to cruel consequences. With the mask of confidence that automatically comes with posting online, people feel emboldened to criticize and attack others in ways they would normally fear to do in person.

“The magnitude of social media is an incredible tool that can be used as a weapon. There’s that sense of anonymity,” Sivertson said.

The anonymity, masks and filtered product that is the essence of social media is evidence of its artificial nature. Nothing can be trusted, nor is anything real. There is no authenticity in social media when everyone spends hours crafting the most aesthetically, perfect post that captures us in the ideal light. We calculate our phrasing for a post in efforts of finding the exact sequence that best matches the hunger of the mainstream crowd rather than one that represents our authentic self.  Scrolling through posts is like taking a dive into a fictitious utopia. Most things are artificially invented based on the insecurities of users. Technology has granted us the power to superficially overcome our insecurities by forming our false best selves online. It is deceiving. We think we are brave, but really we are cowards hiding behind screens. The longer we buy into our masks, the longer our insecurities and faults fester.

Although social media has many innovative advantages, its features have had a crucial impact in the recent increase of mental illness in students. Be aware of how social media can have dangerous consequences in our lives through its degradation of self-worth, isolating nature and artificial advertisement. Be active in controlling how social media affects you as an individual. It is possible to disconnect. All you have to do is make the choice.

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