Why Everyone Secretly Hates Social Media

There’s nothing like waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning at the beginning of the school year to a flood of Instagrams and Snapchat stories documenting the parties from the night before: all with captions full of inside jokes, emojis “discreetly” covering up various Red Solo cups and Snapchat stories with music so loud and videos so blurry no one can really see exactly what’s going on.

 

The only thing worse than waking up and realizing you’ve posted one of those dreaded stories is having to watch them--especially if you absolutely did not have the “best night of your life.”

 

But the thing is, there’s a simple secret to Snapchat stories: they show exactly what the user wants to show. In reality, are people always partying, going to interesting museums and eating good food? Obviously not, but people post pictures of them doing fun things at a much higher frequency than they do pictures of them doing homework, spending nights at TDR or even posts of them crying. Life is not all rainbows, sunshine and parties, contrary to what one’s Snapchat story may be saying.

During my freshman year, I posted stories every Friday and Saturday night. I posted stories  from parties and football games, “funny” pictures of my roommate--basically, every freshman thing you could think of went into the making of my stories. Three months later, I decided to take a semester off and reapply to transfer for my sophomore year. When I told my best friend, she said, “If you hadn’t told me this I would have thought you were having the best year of your life because of everything you posted on social media.”

 

That opened my eyes. Here I was, at an all-time low, displaying my life like I was at an all-time high. Throughout the entire time I was at school, I wanted people to think I was having the best time, because it looked like everyone else was. I worried that I was the only one that was miserable, but, in reality, almost half of my friends applied to transfer after freshman year. Looking back, the ones that did are the friends who appeared to be the happiest on social media.

This is not to say that everyone who posts a Friday night Snapchat story is secretly miserable, but that social media is all relative. Especially freshman year. There are such high expectations to be out and having fun all of the time, but in reality, it’s just unrealistic. The constant feeling of needing to impress people through social media raises anxiety levels, while Snapchat and Instagram posts create unrealistic expectations for everyday college life.

A study done by the American College Health Association found that 62 percent of undergraduates reported overwhelming anxiety in 2016, which is up 50 percent from 2011. Part of this can be attributed to the increase in academic expectations, but the pressure to be social and present an ideal life on social media adds another layer of anxiety to the life of a college student.

The Royal Society for Public Health in England also did a study in 2017 where they asked 1,500 people between the ages of 11 and 25 to track their mood while scrolling through social media. The study concluded that both Instagram and Snapchat inspired feelings of depression and anxiety. Seventy percent of the participants reported that Instagram made them feel more inadequate, and half of the participants admitted that Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram induced feelings of anxiety.

It’s a vicious cycle: college students go on social media when feeling anxious or depressed to distract themselves, but then feel even worse after scrolling through content of people who look like they’re having the time of their lives while you certainly aren’t having the time of yours.

While social media is great for many things, it is not good for the mental health crisis. College students experience higher levels of anxiety and depression anyway; being constantly exposed to unrealistic expectations of life through social media only exacerbates these problems.  

So next time you wake up on a Sunday to a multitude of cringy Snapchat stories, just remember that you’re only seeing a sliver of someone’s life; no one’s life is as exciting as their social media stories say it is. College isn’t “the best night of your life;” it’s a part of your life. And life isn’t always going to be a party.

 

(Photo credit 1, 2, 3)