The Reality of Social Media
Written by a girl that’s obsessed with social media.
April 2, 2020
Without any real research, but with a fair amount of anecdotal proof, it can be stated that a good portion of the modern teenage population cares about the opinions of their peers. We do certain things to gain the approval of others, and choose not to do other things to avoid their disapproval. It’s a harsh reality that our generation often gets criticized for, but it’s true. Whether it’s not wearing that outfit, or choosing not to post that picture in fear of getting bad feedback or enough likes, we have all cared about what people think of us.
What started all this caring, was social media. There are two ways to view and judge people on social media; by their content, and by their numbers. The idea of likes truly messed up society, along with followers, story viewers, and any other aspect of social media that places numbers on people. The fact that two people can post the same picture and get a difference of hundreds of likes ruins self-esteem. The confidence of the person with 100 likes plummets, and the person with 500 likes has a boost. This plummet gives people the fear of being judged by their numbers. Others fear being judged by their content. I’m sure you’ve seen someone’s Snapchat or Instagram story and thought to yourself, “that is so embarrassing” or “why did they post that?” You can think this about anyone’s post, but the idea of people thinking these things about your post is terrifying.
To some people, all the things I’m saying sound extremely petty and make no sense. If you feel that way, you’re lucky.
After talking to some students at Pierson and other nearby schools, I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. After being asked how social media affects her mental health and self-image, a junior at Pierson said, “I decide not to post some things because it looks weird,” proving exactly what I was talking about before. The fear of how a random classmate might react makes you not want to post your favorite picture. After being asked the same question, a Pierson freshman responded, “sometimes getting a bit of attention and views and likes can actually, like, make you feel better about yourself.” This goes back to the numbers situation; if you get a lot of likes, you are more confident, that’s just how it works. In regards to likes, another Pierson junior said, “if you don’t [get a lot of likes], it’s annoying,” which just shows how much likes matter to people.
While asking people how social media makes them feel about themselves, I did get some positive feedback. A sophomore from Ross responded by saying, “it helped me express myself… the way I can make someone believe something about me just by a simple post, and how easy it is to manipulate people’s thoughts about you through it.” She expressed some of the normally-negative aspects of social media in a positive light. The whole idea of people thinking of you differently because of your posts is typically something I think is negative. Now I see it could be a good thing. Someone who used to think you were different than them might find similarities through an activity or a song posted on your story. Suddenly their opinion of you changes, they think you’re really cool. That is what social media was made for, right? Sharing your life and making new friends through it?
Here is where my social media obsession shows in my opinions on this. Personally, I’ve never posted something on any social media platform before weighing the effect the post will have on my social life. Will someone see my story and send it to their friend to share a laugh? Yeah, probably. Should I delete this picture even though that one person liked it who never likes my posts? No. That one like matters more than others enjoying my feed. I know my need for approval through social media isn’t healthy, but maybe that’s okay. The criticism Gen Z gets for its social media obsession is not necessarily wrong, but its something that needs to be stopped. It’s just reality. We’re all guilty of judging people through their social media(s), whether it results in a good or bad assessment. We all need to learn how to handle acceptance and/or the lack of it; maybe social media is the right way to do that.