ocial media is plaguing the social environment in which we are part of. For most, time spent on social media has blended together and it is difficult to pinpoint the time in which we integrated ourselves into the digital world of likes and oversharing.
Personally, I can easily identify when I acquired social media. My parents–as people who work in the industry–made it a house rule that I wasn’t allowed to create an account for any platform (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook etc.) until grade nine. I impatiently awaited this date with an overwhelming sense of FOMO that had been festering since grade six; when my peers first began delving into the world of Snapchat and Instagram.
“Now that I have been a part of the social media world, it is almost impossible to imagine life without it.”
I feel a strange attachment to it. The thought of deleting the apps fills me with anxiety. What if I miss out on what my friends are doing?
In my experience, teens who don’t involve themselves in social media are often excluded from parties, events, and other social gatherings. The reason for this isn’t to be mean or hateful, it is purely accidental. Most teens my age communicate and plan solely using Snapchat, so if a person doesn’t have an account they are easily left out of the loop.
If I was to look ahead to the future, the only point in my life in which I can see myself deleting social media is when I am settled. This would look like having a set group of friends, and a family so as I wouldn’t need to be bothered by what’s happening with other people, because I have created the life that I want for myself. As a teen or even a young adult, this isn’t feasible because you are just beginning to form new connections and relationships with others. And unfortunately, this is primarily done through the internet.
I am not proud to admit that I average between 4-5 hours per day on my phone; most of those hours are dedicated to Facetime, scrolling through Instagram, and snapping friends on Snapchat. There is no app that truly affects my mood, although I have learned to put myself in the shoes of the influencer and realize the embellishing that often happens behind the scenes of each post. Instagram is likely one of the worst apps for your mental health because it is so easy to compare your life to another person’s. Learning to scroll through Instagram and understand what posts make you compare yourself to others and what posts motivate you is important.
To ensure my mind is happy, I have gone through my Instagram account and unfollowed anyone who negatively affects my mood and followed people who share my interests and goals. This way I have less chance of seeing things that would upset me or don’t align with my beliefs.
‘The Social Dilemma’ does a great job of highlighting the downsides of social media, but what they neglect to do is emphasize all of the positives that stem from a world that is so connected.
In the outbreak of the pandemic, social media helped families, sports teams, friends, and strangers all connect and come together as one. It became a hub for human interaction that otherwise wouldn’t be there in the midst of a lockdown.
Social media was crucial in providing a platform for Black Lives Matter protesters and getting more people involved in the US election. Furthermore, it is a great place for inspiration and self-expression.
It is key for teens and all people alike to balance their time spent on these platforms, and understand the good and the bad that can come from such powerful applications.
Personally, I don’t feel the need to change my social media habits, because I am able to put my phone down and be social, and I have almost no changes in mental health after being on Instagram and Snapchat.
It is evident that as a society we are changing due to the nature of social media, however, it is important to understand that there are positives and negatives to this change. As long as we continue to be self-aware and mindful of our time spent on our devices, we can use social media as a tool to better our communities.