Photo by Sara Kurfeß from Unsplash
Do you realize how attached we are to social media? Every choice we make is contingent to the choices of others, like we have given up our freedom to choose. We allow strangers online to decide even basic choices for us, like what we eat, what we wear, who to date, etc. We’ve ripped off parts of ourselves and deformed them to become another typical, ideal image everyone loves to praise. We’ve invested ourselves into the relationships and life decisions of others, as if we share an intimate bond and friendship.
Our whole lives are wrapped around the lifestyles of others to an extent that we rely on their decisions for our state of mind. As a result, we stay and leave the platform feeling resentful and inadequate about the entirety of your life. Every milestone you’ve experienced is compared to the milestones of others. Even if you don’t intend to compare, deep inside, you believe that your happiness, success, and value are less than theirs. Imagine having that feeling every time you get on social media until you sleep then wake up the next morning doing the same thing.
Social media has created this false reality that paints an ideal life where struggle and adversity don’t exist. It urges people to conceal imperfections, failures — everything that makes life meaningful and replace it with manipulated figments of the perfect life. In social media, we see almost everything about everybody’s lives. Our entire history and the journey of creating our future are stored and recorded in each of our accounts. Even though we can tweak the privacy settings to our liking, to control the number of people who get to see my content, the whole world still has access to it.
Everyone we know and don’t have the power to go through your experiences and But what people don’t know is social media is not the place to be when you’re still hurting or too aggravated to share optimism and love with others. Social media can be an incredibly toxic and hostile environment for anybody. Your mental state is the number one concern, and this shouldn’t be taken lightly. In this day and age, privacy and peace of mind are the two most priceless luxuries. Today, you’re luckier if people don’t anything much about you.
People obsess about perfecting their image on social media because it’s one thing they can control. They come to social media to play pretend inside this illusion they’ve created to seek comfort. To them, they feel more alive online than in real-life interactions. This is because they can benefit more from a scripted and fake dialog. People are not brave enough Some people make the mistake of living virtually in the real world.
HOW IS THE YOUTH AFFECTED BY THE DANGERS PRESENT IN SOCIAL MEDIA?
Young girls and boys, even full-grown adults, treat social media as real life. We unfortunately fail to see the illusion of it all. Somehow they’re stuck into one big vacuum that’s pulling them away from sanity and decency, turning them into social media addicts or zombies. We now live in a world where people do crazy, ridiculous, and even dangerous things to compete with other people’s gain for attention. They would risk their health, dignity, and safety in exchange for likes and approval from strangers.
- Negative body image. Note that changing your physical appearance isn’t intrinsically bad, but you can’t deny that majority of the reasons people opt to change the way they look is because of fear of negative feedback. They would pay a lot of money to do surgery after surgery just to look like the ideal body types and facial features. We complain about society’s pressure on beauty especially on women but we conform to it anyway.
- Cyberbullying and Hate speech. The worst mistake anyone can make online is to act impulsively. Some people act like every action they do can be taken back or reversed. Well, news flash: the internet is forever. Even if a piece of information is too old or buried underneath many others, it doesn’t mean it’s extinct. People of all ages experience cyberbullying every day, whether through verbal messages or visual cues like memes or video compilations. Those who are victims of these worries incessantly about what others are thinking of them now while the rest of the world laughs at them.
- Neglected real-life connections. If we get too distracted with our online presence, we tend to neglect our presence in real-life setting. We become oblivious to our commitments in school or at work because we’re so fed up with the pressure of not being left behind. We hop into the bandwagon and do what everybody else is already doing. By participating in the trend, we feel the sense of belongingness. We feel like we’re a part of a community that we often don’t feel like in real-life interactions. You post content online and interact with likes and comments the whole day, like you have no prior commitments.
- Lack of soul-searching and self-analysis. Too much social media deprives you of essential time to unwind and introspect. Your ideas and feelings are mixed with the philosophies of others, keeping you from focusing on yours alone. You will have no time for self-reflection because your mind is constantly preoccupied with other people’s lifestyles. The failure to disconnect yourself from social media will eventually result in low self-esteem, lack of focus, and poor judgment. Furthermore, the development of underlying mental issues will grow even more detrimental and left unaddressed.
- Narcissism. A widespread culture involving sexual innuendo and child exploitation of minors has been proliferating on social media platforms. Young kids with access to the internet consume age-restricted media such as inappropriate photos and videos that encourage them to behave that way. Nowadays, you can see ten-year-old girls wear too much makeup and dance provocatively on Tiktok. For some demented reason, some parents are not only overlooking but also enabling this type of behavior because this is what’s “trending” and “normal” in this day and age. Unfortunately, the only people enjoying are the sick pedophiles and good-for-nothing producers preying on these kids.
THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN SIX AREAS OF YOUR LIFE:
Social media has destroyed our self-confidence. People love to filter their faces. Self-confidence should come from within and not from the number of likes and comments you get. Inadequacy about your life or appearance. Even if you know that images you’re viewing on social media are manipulated, they can still make you feel insecure about how you look or what’s going on in your own life.
Similarly, we’re all aware that other people tend to share just the highlights of their lives, rarely the low points that everyone experiences. But that doesn’t lessen those feelings of envy and dissatisfaction when you’re scrolling through a friend’s airbrushed photos of their tropical beach holiday or reading about their exciting new promotion at work.
Most people only post all the good things happening in their lives on social media. I mean, who would want to show the ugly and unpleasant things about them, right? But ironically, we still think what someone posts online is a definitive measurement of their self-worth. Social media has made us think so low about ourselves.
It makes us believe we’re just sitting around doing nothing while someone out there is already so successful. Remember that no one’s posting their failures and losses. Train your mind to be at peace with the fact of going your own pace in life. Someone else’s productivity shouldn’t have to pressure you into meeting his level. Dwelling so much on social media fosters our insecurity and jealousy with other people’s versions of success.
And to fill that void of insecurity, we force ourselves to do something even when we are not emotionally and mentally ready. Crippling self-doubt due to comparison is only one of the many ways social media can negatively affect our mental health and overall well-being.
Many relationships end because they allow social media to intrude and poison their relationship. People allow outsider beliefs and ideologies to destroy the foundation of their bond. Letting this slide is sending a message that you value the opinions of others more than yours and your partner’s.
Nowadays, relationships are stripped naked of their privacy for the whole public to witness. They post their arguments on social media, attracting critics and jealous-minded individuals to comment and prey on their openness. People’s opinions break down your confidence and the respect of your relationship.
Your sharing to the whole world about what’s happening in your relationship is hurting yourself and your partner. Even if the relationship is going well, some will still leave negative comments about it. Only when you learn to draw a line between discussing your problems in private and sharing decent information on social media will you strengthen your relationship till the end.
For most of us who continue to discover who we are, the journey to knowing our true selves becomes more daunting. Social media presents us with a myriad of personalities and identities coming from places all over the world. If we indulge ourselves too much in this virtual market, we lead ourselves to cross paths we weren’t meant to set foot on. Social media distracts and confuses us from shaping our true self-identity.
Socializing with friends and strangers online can challenge our beliefs and values which affects our identity as an individual. The influence social media has over us is so extreme that our exposure to a certain type of media can directly affect our identity. This is why it’s imperative to not only be aware of our social media use but also of what we allow to be exposed to. Be responsible with your social media feed. You have the control over what you can see and what you cannot.
The vast proliferation of fake news has poisoned the sanctity of truth. Anyone can easily spit lies online about anything. It’s much harder to know the truth because many insist they are telling the real story. As consumers of other people’s content, we tie their decisions to their beliefs and values based on a short video clip. We become the judges of their decisions because we feel like they owe it to us for sharing snippets of their lives.
People are scared of being judged, of being reduced to a piece of content. As a defense, we choose to wear a mask than show who we are and risk being judged by the whole world. People would continue to live behind a façade to be liked; this enables us to keep participating in this people-pleasing cycle. We aim to keep the truth away from the public’s eye as much as possible because our source of confidence would be ruined.
Nobody would praise or validate us anymore. Social media has been our platform to fabricate information to forward the goal of manipulating the audience according to our favor. If we want to prove to others that we’re living our best lives, we post a picture where we’re living luxuriously.
Social media shows you all different sources of happiness and different versions of fun. From a viewer’s point of view, it makes you want to try on the activities because many are doing it. You try to hang out with certain kinds of people because you heard someone say she felt happy and accepted around her friend group. Social media’s influence is so strong that it urges you to leave your comfort zone impulsively and follow what others are doing to be happy.
What if you see a piece of content that will lead you to the wrong choice? It’s more likely to find happiness doing things you want to do than getting on the bandwagon. Keep in mind that their definition of happiness doesn’t necessarily reflect yours. You might not enjoy what others find enjoyable. You following their habits and activities may not benefit you as much as you thought.
It’s safe to say that social media shouldn’t be the place to go if you’re looking for ways to be happy. Sure, you would see lots of funny and inspiring videos. But not until you look into content that will turn that smile into a frown, then you wouldn’t want to be happy anymore. It takes practice, and intention to be happy; not a quick search online.
We are now living at an age where social media is, to a great extent, connected to our daily lives. In terms of marketing, entertainment, business, healthcare, and many other aspects of livelihood, we use the media as a means to communicate. In the status quo, we socialize and interact through a different, more diverse, and efficient medium. While this may be more convenient than the traditional way of interaction, we are also vulnerable to the negative effects of social media.
But there’s no other way to move but forward, so we have to find a way to strike a balance. Just because social media has its downsides doesn’t mean we should disregard its tremendous benefits. While you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, always remember that most of what you see online is manipulated, choreographed, or just plain fake. Your authenticity is too precious for it to be replaced with a fake image. Your confidence is too important for it to be diminished by your assumption of someone’s perfect life.
Monitor your feelings and urges, so you can figure out what content to erase, people to avoid, and issues to resolve. Sometimes, we blame the internet for being too toxic and ugly and dark, but we forget that this is just one side of its many layers. There are also many people posting content on positivity, support, and mutual understanding at scale. It’s just a matter of looking at the right things, searching for beautiful things.
“You don’t need to go far to see the hatred and abuse that happens online. Even using social media is anti-social because people are always on their phones.”Ronny Chieng