The social media mask
January 7, 2016
From likes on Instagram pictures to retweets on Twitter, social media has risen in fame and captured the attention of billions all over the world. It’s a beneficial way to share moments and memories with family and friends around the globe.
“Since I move a lot, I’m able to keep in contact with so many people really easily,” senior transfer Lauren Karbler said. The question is: are these moments representative of the life they actually live?
Social media sites and apps allow students to choose an impressive visual and comprehensive filter for their lives, making the boring exceptional and the unappealing alluring. They give themselves an image of the person they want to be: someone who is fun, creative,witty, spontaneous, beautiful, and intriguing. But, is this for the best?
“I think it affects people negatively because people always are looking for likes and try too hard to feel accepted,” junior Sydney Shupe said.
In a survey conducted by The Patriot, 65.99 percent of respondents said that their social media accounts reflect what their life is actually like. Interestingly enough, when asked how they feel other people’s social media accounts reflect what they are actually like, 64.19 percent of people said that it makes others’ lives seem cooler and better than they actually are.
This virtual renovation can be accomplished in millions of minuscule ways. You can compose a funny tweet pondering on it for an hour before posting it to seem witty. You can edit smiles to erase the stains from the cups of coffee you drank to get through the day. You can post pictures hugging dozens of friends when in reality, you’re not even close to them.
“If you go somewhere with a friend, all you do the whole time is try to get a good picture so you can post it and make other people jealous of what you’re doing, when really you’re wasting a moment with them by taking pictures the whole time,” senior Kelley Reilley said.
Many student’s responses proved Reilley’s point true because it seems that they are tuned into social media constantly, no matter what they are doing. “I’m on it literally all the time like 24/7. If I’m not sleeping or dead, then I’m on [social media],” junior Olivia Lang said.
“I don’t like social media because people spend too much time trying to capture moments instead of living in them and embracing their surroundings,” Reilley said. Popular opinion online seems to concur with how students view social media as well.
“The 27 flawless ‘night out’ pictures are more important than the night itself. If a girl purchases a new dress, it’s more likely for a new Facebook profile photo than an actually party,” Miranda Athanasiou said in her article on Elite Daily. If we are too busy spending all of our time creating this virtual mask for ourselves, we miss out on the opportunity to have real life experiences embracing our surroundings and having face-to-face interactions.
According to the Huffington Post, “We’re living in a world where hours spent on Facebook in the U.S. went up 700 percent between 2008 and 2009. Where 30 percent of people in the U.S. used social media in 2008, and 72 percent do today.” The mask that hides the true identity of people is becoming more of the norm as time goes on.
Negative effects of social media
According to SocialMediaToday, the number of current, active users on social media is over 2.206 billion and that number has risen by 176 million users in the past year alone.
There is a wide range of social media outlets that give their users the benefits that satisfy their needs: VSCO, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram supply a community to those who are interested in sharing only pictures, whereas Twitter and Facebook are a source of communication with old and new friends.
Social media can be a beneficial way to communicate with people who you have not seen in awhile. However, it is also a way for people to bully others online and make them feel bad about themselves.
“I like that I can immediately find out what’s going on in the world because I don’t watch the news, so it’s much easier to just go to what’s trending on Twitter and find out what’s happening around me,” sophomore Chris Cerra said.
Although social media can be used as a way of communication, there are negative effects that coincide with it. “It can have a negative influence or a positive influence, it’s all about how you use it,” senior Conrad Gagnon said.
Inan interview with CBS DC, Lemoyne College professor of psychology Krystine Batcho believes children are becoming addicted to social media before they can learn how to have face-to-face conversations. This creates the misconception that it is okay to hide behind the screens of phones and computers.
According to an organization called Enough is Enough, whose goal is to make the Internet safer, 95 percent of teenagers have witnessed cyberbullying and have ignored it, whereas 35 percent have been cruel to others online.
People can be pressured by others into acting a certain way online or even assisting in bullying. According to Anti-Bullying Pro, 83 percent of people who have been bullied say that bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem.
“I hate how much pressure there is to feel like you have a responsibility to prove that you’re constantly doing something cool or good,” an anonymous student responded to the survey. “I wish people in this day and age would just live their lives instead of constantly documenting that they’re doing something.”
This cyberbullying, along with peer pressure, can damage a person’s mental health and cause them to become depressed and develop harmful habits such as starving themselves or self-harm. Pictures that are posted online create a false image in people’s heads of what the ideal look is.
“[Social media] affects self-esteem also because everyone is looking at everyone else’s pictures, and they’re so edited and filtered that it’s not even a reality anymore, and people do things to make it look like their lives are greater than they really are,” Reilley said
Thinspiration is a trend on social media that glorifies being thin in an unhealthy manner. According to Eating Disorder Hope, this trend includes hashtags, such as #eatingdisorders, #size0, and #ana, that contain “images of emaciated women, detailed instructions on how to binge and purge, or graphic information about severe weight loss.” This trend triggers eating disorders in people, which can cause more difficulties later in life.
New social outlets are being created and it’s up to the users on how they wish to allow themselves to be affected by it.
“I find that social media takes up a lot of time and some people get too wrapped up in it and care about likes and followers too much when at the end of the day, it’s just a picture and it doesn’t really matter,” Cerra said.