The issue with social media: strangers and friends

The+issue+with+social+media%3A+strangers+and+friends

Okay. While this is definitely a topic I’m sure has been drilled into your head by adults (don’t worry, it’s been drilled into mine too), I think that a different message comes across when it is another teenager who is saying it. With that, I’d like to briefly discuss why you shouldn’t go on Instagram or Twitter so much.

And you can take this from me. I’ve had enough Twitter stan accounts since I was twelve to know that it can be a rough place. So I’ll talk about my first issue with social media: strangers. While I defintely agree it can be a great place to connect with people who have similar interests, that’s about as far as it goes. Once you run into someone who disagrees with you, there is absolutely no civility whatsoever. People attack one another, believe that they are the only ones who will ever be in the right, and it’s easy, because it’s not face-to-face.

Sure, even if you don’t take part in the discourse (if I can even call it that), everyone has seen Twitter or Instagram fights between strangers in the comments or replies to posts. Reading these heated arguments as mere words essentially numbs the effect of the words to a reader not involved in the conversation. But to the people who the words are directed towards, it stings. It’s easy to see how this creates a cycle of people attacking one another without fully knowing or understanding the impact of the things they type.

I’ve recieved death threats for saying that I have a sister in the military. I’ve gotten suspended on Twitter because enough people reported me for saying I didn’t like a particular song from an artist. And that hurt, but it also told the people who saw these tweets that this type of reaction is okay. And the cycle continues. Basically, what I’m saying is that people are vicious online. And those who are vicious most likely received some sort of aggression themselves online at one point or another. Best way to avoid being attacked for an opinion (well, excluding the option that the people should just be nicer)? Don’t go online so much with strangers. Something bad is bound to happen that has a negative impact on your mental health.

Now, social media with your friends. Is it better? Well, that depends on what you define as better. Being cyberbullied by people you know feels more personal, so it may hurt more. But I want to focus more on the effects of passive “bullying,” whether it may be intentional or not. 

Say you post a picture of yourself on Instagram. At the same time, so does someone else you know. They get more likes than you, and they have more people commenting on their post. You notice this, and you can justify it if they have more followers than you but….wait. They have less followers than you. So does that mean people like them more? Do people not like you?

Instagram is especially bad with this. It’s constantly comparing people to one another, and it hurts when it’s someone you know, when you think that getting more likes means they’re better.

And then there are the models on Instagram, the people with the perfect bodies and lives that are constantly shown on your feed. And it’s inevitable that you’ll start to get envious, start to look down at your body and see your own life in comparison. To hold your own self-worth to the number of double taps on a screen? It’s bad for your mental health.

While I would say the best solution is to just delete Instagram, I realize that’s not exactly feasible. So, I encourage you to go on social media just a little less. 

To me, bingeing Netflix shows are much better than mindlessly scrolling, your ego getting a little bit more hurt with each swipe.

And if this isn’t a problem for you, eventually it will be – or maybe you’re just really confident in yourself, which then I would applaud you on. Social media isn’t inherently bad, but there are definitely parts about it that are. The way to avoid those? Less exposure. Trust me, it’ll make you feel better.