The Dangers of Social Media
Social media has become increasingly prevalent in our society. There is a lot to enjoy about the cornucopia of entertainment and information readily available at our fingertips. Unfortunately nothing is perfect and while social media can be fun, it is not free from any cons.
- Body Image Struggles
Photoshop, FaceTune— there are so many apps that make it easy for people to alter the way they look in photos and even videos. For young and impressionable audiences, this can be dangerous. Some people use influencers as their role models for their fitness goals. Since nobody looks like the photoshopped version of themselves, this can be a recipe for disaster and encourage some unhealthy behaviors.
- Unrealistic Expectations
Many people have described social media accounts as being the “highlight reel” of their lives. I think this is a great way of putting it. Comparing a mundane / normal life to somebody else’s carefully curated, exciting version of their life can give users unrealistic expectations as to how life is supposed to be.
Bullying is not something new. Unfortunately it seems like this is going to be something that people will struggle with for generations to come. What our parents’ generation cannot relate to is how that bullying now follows you everywhere. Before, if you were being bullied at school, you could escape it when you got home. Now, if you have a social media profile, bullies have no limits. You can go the route of reporting and blocking the profiles, but I speak from experience when I say that does not always work. It is too easy for bullies to create a new account or use a friend’s account. Even moving away from your hometown does not guarantee peace anymore.
- Screen Time
My first social media profile was FaceBook. This was mostly used to communicate with my extended family members and friends, so it was not something that was addicting. Then Instagram came out and there was peer pressure to create an account and actively find interesting pictures to post. Then Vine was created and there was the expectation to spend hours scrolling through the app to keep up with the inside jokes being talked about at school. (Middle School sounds insane when I look back on it now.) With all of the new sites and apps, we are using out phones more than ever. This screen time can be unhealthy, alter sleep schedules, and hinder productivity.
Anybody can post whatever they choose on social media. These platforms make it easy to spread misinformation online. A post going viral spreads like wildfire. It is easy to read the headline of an article and take it at face value before checking the source for legitimacy.
With celebrities using the same apps, it is easy to find yourself comparing yourself to them. You may see an actor your age living out your wildest dreams while you are drinking your morning coffee before your 9-5. With their pictures buried between photos posted by our friends, it can be difficult to separate them in our minds. Suddenly it feels like we are not doing enough with our lives.
- Loss of Private Life
Social media promotes posting about yourself. When you are thinking your friends looking at your profile, it seems normal. Imagining complete strangers stumbling across your account is more uncomfortable. Suddenly people can see where you go to school based on your sweatshirt or know what car you drive.
Social media can be a fun outlet when used with the right mindset. I have found that limiting my time spent on the addictive apps to be beneficial in keeping me anchored in my real life. Always use caution when posting online. Even when a post is deleted, it still exists on the internet. Keep yourself safe and do not post your phone number, address, credit cards, driver’s license, or your vehicle’s license plate. Private accounts add an extra layer of protection, but it is always better to err on the side of caution.