The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with social media. There are many great aspects to social media, and I love scrolling through my Instagram and Twitter feeds, but I’ve noticed that it also has a negative effect on me. Social media can be a great tool for inspiration, to stay connected with friends and family, and even to catch up on the news. However, it can also be a toxic place. While there are good aspects of social media, there are also bad and even ugly sides to it.
Social media gives people an outlet to express themselves freely and creatively. Posting makeup looks, outfit pictures, singing videos, and photography allows users to showcase their talents and grow a community with others who have similar interests. In this way, social media is a great place to find inspiration for all kinds of things. I found so many Halloween costume ideas just through Instagram this past week!
The original intent of social media was to connect with others, and while some people believe that human connection has decreased because of the internet, I believe social media can still help keep people in touch. Especially in the past couple years, where we’ve had to distance ourselves from others, it’s been nice to have the platforms to turn to to connect with others. Having my first semester of college be fully remote was challenging, especially when it came to making new friends. However, Facebook groups and finding people on Instagram and Snapchat helped me connect with some new people. I even found my roommate thanks to social media, and we were able to stay connected even while being states apart.
More recently, social media has turned into a significant news outlet. With Tweets and Instagram infographics, many organizations and individuals have been able to use these platforms to spread important world news and bring attention to some major concerns. However, beware of the fake news!
Social media, while good for some things, also has some bad sides. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my notifications and scroll through all my social media apps. Instead of getting out of bed and being productive, I end up staying in bed for another 30 minutes to an hour, aimlessly scrolling through my feed. Social media is a distraction. And, while sometimes distraction is good, it’s not always the best. According to psychologists, about five to ten percent of Americans are addicted to social media. Social media is dopamine inducing, as we feel rewarded every time we get a new follower, like, or comment. This keeps individuals coming back to their platforms. Moreover, because of our obsession with receiving these good feelings, we become consumed by it, and when a post doesn’t get as many likes or comments, we feel hurt. From personal experience, this has been a problem for me and it’s led me to have bad posting anxiety, where after I post my image, I’ll constantly be checking to see if it “did well.” Social media should just be a fun place for people to share what they want, but at times it feels there’s an added pressure attached to it.
The good, the bad, and now to the ugly: social media can be a very disturbing place and has had some seriously detrimental effects on individuals. Young girls have been shown to be extremely negatively impacted by social media. Many influencers on social media post photoshopped, face-tuned, and highly edited images. However, these images create a fake reality of how women should appear, and it drives users to criticize and compare themselves to others. Worst of all, the algorithms on these apps are designed so that similar images keep appearing on your feed, and you continue to compare yourself. According to NEDA: “Of American elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight.” There are growing concerns about the effects that social media has on body image, anxiety, and depression, and while the heads of these companies know exactly what’s going on, efforts to resolve any concerns have been ignored in order to maximize economic growth. Social media platforms can be a dangerous place, and it’s important to be mindful of what you’re consuming. With the recent breaking news around Facebook and the whistleblower, Frances Haugen, there is a lot of new information being released about how social media affects people and the changes that need to be implemented to make it a safer place.
So, while there are positive sides to using social media, there are also many negative aspects. It’s important to use social media wisely and target it to more positive and true information. Hopefully, the social media heads can start paying more attention to these facts and make the necessary changes so that their apps aren’t as harmful.