Social media is dangerous

Opinion Columnist

Will social media be the downfall of our society?

While social media is a marvelous way to bring the world together through the sharing of opinions, interests and ideas, it seems to weaken our society’s ability to offer promotion of individuality and self-awareness. Our society’s main focus is posting about new and exciting things, making people’s lives appear fascinating and goal-worthy, and not to mention, worrying about getting the most likes or views – because apparently that makes you cooler, right?

If we spent more time concerning ourselves with more productive things, like focusing on education and work, instead of silly, insignificant posts on social media, then our society could change for the better. We need to stop caring so much about how other people, strangers to our daily lives, view us and just be ourselves.

Take the issue of personality changes over the last couple of years when social media reached its peak, for example. This change is especially noticeable in teens, which is not surprising considering the average teen spends about nine hours consuming media daily, according to a report by Common Sense Media. Teens have become far too concerned with how other people view them, resorting to posting unrealistic, often inappropriate photos, videos or memes just to gain attention.

Older social media users are setting terrible examples of appropriate actions and behaviors for the younger generation. Posting about controversial subjects and opinions is fine, but not when it threatens social values, morals and reality. Social media should be about expressing your own opinions, ideas and lifestyle in a realistic and appropriate fashion, not faking who you are to seem cooler.

Let’s be real for a second: Half the people following your social media accounts probably don’t even know you and never will. So then why are people so concerned with how these strangers see them?

There have been many studies conducted showing the effects social media has on our minds and the emotional toll it places on teens and younger social media users. Because teens are too concerned with posting the perfect selfie and creating the coolest caption, they lose track of being themselves and showing the true them for everyone to see. When teens start trying to take the “perfect picture,” they end up stressing themselves because they feel nothing they post is good enough. This issue leads to anxiety and depression.

One study conducted by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that social media users, more specifically girls, were reported to experience major depressive incidents, causing a dramatic rise in depression in teens possibly from the alarming rise of cyberbullying.

Other studies, such as one administered by American University, found that social media users were led to negative body image, resulting in eating disorders. Extreme problems such as these are damaging to the younger generation’s health and happiness. Teens are naturally anxious and self-conscious, so negative body images are placing an unfortunate emotional toll on teens to post the perfect picture.

With the way our society has been progressing, it may be very hard to stop social media from destroying our lives. In fact, excessive use of social media can actually lead to addiction.

What we need to do is monitor how much social media is controlling us. The goal is not to obliterate all social media sites, but to stop allowing social media to rack our brains trying to post the perfect picture. Posting unrealistic photos or videos does no one any good, especially if those photos or videos are edited or negatively influence or harm other people. So many teens have turned into obnoxious, self-centered brats, too focused in their own worlds to notice what else is going on in the world.

It’s time to take back our own lives and feel free from the stress of social media. No one is perfect, just like no one should be perfect on social media. Only we can shape how our society grows, but doing nothing will only lead to further damage of our behavior and minds. Save your brain the trouble, and be real on social media.