You live in a pretend world. Viewing fake people in fake places with all of their fake possessions. Sure you have followers, sure you have “friends,” but are you really happy? Most people think Yeah, I’m Happy, but social media can affect your mental health more than you think.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 92 percent of teens claim to go online at least once a day, and 24 percent say they are online almost nonstop. The statistics are from 2015 and I can only assume these numbers have increased in the past three years. So, here’s my question: how much does this affect your pursuit of happiness?
Worrying about the amount of “friends” you have or the amount of likes you get can impact you more than you think. Not only does social media have emotional consequences, but it can influence what you eat, how much you eat and how often you choose to go to the gym. These things can cause physical problems, not just emotional problems. If you’re under eating and over-exercising (yes, that is a real thing) just to impress your followers, it can generate physical health issues.
Cyberbullying is another big problem that comes with social media. Not being the “perfect weight,” not wearing the “right clothes,” and/or not having all the right materialistic things are only a few situations that could result in cyberbullying. People can be mean. I’m just going to put that out there. Some will criticize you for things that may not even be true, but that’s just the way the world works. I’m not saying that cyberbullying is okay; that’s not at all what I’m implying. What I am trying to say is that you can’t expect for things to be perfect. And, if you are getting bullied, in person or not, you should definitely talk to a trusted adult. Whether that be a teacher, counselor or parent, they can most likely help you.
Growing up without social media hasn’t been super easy, which seemingly contradicts the purpose of this entire article; however, that actually helps my case. I don’t connect with people in the same ways as everyone else does. I tend to feel left out when I don’t see “that picture” or “that tweet” or don’t get “that invitation.” Just as having social media can cause negative feelings, not having social media can degrade your self-esteem too. This shows how much these apps have changed people throughout the last decade. If I can feel uncomfortable just because I am forced to have physical conversations, that tells you that some changes really need to be made.
What can you do to alter the way social media influences you? First I would suggest a cleanse. Although I said that not having social can be negative, I still think that you should try to go a couple days or maybe even a week or two without using any of your social media. It may end up becoming something that you make permanent. If you can’t stomach dropping Snapchat, however, you need to remember that whatever you post it will be out there forever. You don’t need to change who you are to fit in. If you are posting things that are even the slightest bit inappropriate just because everyone else is doing it, that can really come back to haunt you. Everything you put on the internet can be saved by anyone who sees it, even if it gets deleted.
Written by Kristen Jacobs