The topic of social media dependency has come up in my life quite a few times recently and I thought to share my thoughts on it.
As an adult who grew up before the current social media boom, I can say that I am extremely grateful I was able to enjoy a childhood without it. As much as I am thankful that social media has connected me with family across the globe, friends I never knew existed, and current events from around the world, I do feel we are at a point in society where our dependency on it has become damaging.
Kids growing up these days are accustomed to having social media at their fingertips. They grow up with it being a need. While social media started out as a way for people to connect with one another, for some it has become a source, if not THE source, of how to measure one’s worth. People see it as their validation in life; a validation that they are worthy of living and just as good as the rest of the world.
Meghan Markle recently addressed her thoughts on social media with her quote:
“Your judgement of your sense of self-worth becomes really skewed when it’s all based on likes.”
She is completely on point by saying self-worth becomes skewed, because how can you tell yourself you are worthy just by seeing the number of times someone double clicked on your photo? How is one to know about the genuineness behind a “Like”? If those likes didn’t show up, are we allowed to be happy as we made ourselves to look in the photo? If we get fewer likes than we wanted, did life really happen?
The same goes for the fact that people curate their feed to show their best selves. It is a quite literal “filtered” view created to portray this “perfect” life and there are too many naïve teens and millennials believing that such a “perfect” life is easily attainable. This naïvety and quick-to-assume outlook of viewing various social media photos contribute to various mental health issues in society, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders. Studies have linked these mental health issues and the use of social media. As users of any social media, we have slowly built up a pressure to post only what we deem as positive and “pretty” because it is what gets us the most likes. Then we’ve deemed that any of the negatives aspects of our lives are not worthy of making the cut. This, in turn, adds to the pressures of portraying our “perfect” life.
I don’t want to completely put down social media because it definitely has its benefits: being a creative outlet, connecting with others you wouldn’t have otherwise connected with, creating friendships and collaborations, free advertisement. The point of this post is to allow people to become educated on its downfalls. How many people yearning for these likes are actually truly aware of these dangers? Aware of the bullying behind the screen, the suicides, the drops in self-esteem, the lost self-confidence, the depression? If you aren’t aware of these issues, you are contributing to these social issues and adding even more pressure to the naïve social media users.
Writing all this, I am not going to say I have never been affected by people liking my photos, but I will be one to say that I am not one to thrive on the number of likes. I don’t let it become my whole being and I am aware of the differences between how to measure my worth through likes versus how to measure my worth through my own actions. This all comes down to being aware, educating yourselves, and knowing how to create a balance between your real life and your black mirror life.
I end with a post linking you to a recent Instagram post written by Garance Doré, a French photographer, illustrator, and author. She beautifully summarizes the rollercoaster that is Instagram.
Please share your thoughts below! I’d love to hear what you think!