Mill Valley News

A non-social way of socializing

While there are a few benefits of social media, studies have shown that too much social media is damaging for teens’ mental health

Annika Lehan, JAG editor-in-chief

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She opened the picture on her phone, adding in every tiny obscure detail, pulling in every unwanted curve and exemplifying the wanted ones. She added the final touches, her sweaty finger hovering above the upload button, her heart skipping a beat as she finally presses down. Posting her picture to social media, she began the very long trap that social media can get us caught in. As unfortunate as it it, negative effects such as low self esteem can be the direct results of social media outlets such as Instagram and Snapchat. As social media becomes more and more prominent in our society, so are the negative effects that it brings. While social media can arguably bring people together and act as an outlet of expression, it’s important to recognize the negative effects that it can bring as to avoid them.

For starters, although social media has the power to connect people all over the world, our generation has turned it into something that is seemingly pointless and mindless. For years I strayed away from social media because I was shocked at what it was doing to my peers; I would watch them sit next to each other, day after day, making invisible frogs dance on tables and taking pictures of the ground just to keep an imaginary number referred to as a streak. And when these daily streak quotas were not met? Anger and hurt were exchanged.

According to Psycom, an organization focused on mental health, those who spend more time on social media are at higher risk of having eating disorders and body concerns. They are more likely to have problems sleeping and symptoms of depression. We, as a generation, are so concerned about the amount of likes we get and by the amount of follows we have that it begins to consume our lives until it is the only thing that we can think about. We focus more on how we appear on social media than our own well-being and the well-beings of others.

Those who are in favor of social media argue on behalf of its abilities to connect people who would never have met otherwise and to provide a forum of support for minority groups, according to Psycom. However, because people present only their best selves on social media, it’s impossible to truly know who all of your “friends” truly are. Some would argue that social media allows less socially inclined people to reach out and connect with others. Yet this does more harm than good as it prohibits people from fully developing the in-person social skills that they will need later in life to be successful.

While I’m not trying to say that we should get rid of social media entirely, I do believe that people need to focus more on in-person communication rather than online communication. If people continue to use social media as mindless competition, then we will eventually evolve into a world in which social interaction would fail to exist, ultimately leading to a more shallow culture and decrease in value of loved ones. Although it is time consuming and perhaps slightly uncomfortable, people need to begin logging out of their social media accounts, putting down their phones and realizing what social media is doing to us. After all, the best way to live life is to actually live it—not through the eyes of a filter.

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