Swiping, typing, double-tapping, & double snapping. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. Social media is one of the defining characteristics of our generation; it’s the medium that popularized the concept of a meme and made widespread dances like “the renegade” a thing. There have been wishy-washy discussions about its impacts on us teens, as well as on adults, politics, food, and probably a bunch of other stuff. But I just wanted to share my perspective on the topic.
I’ll admit: my perspective might be a little bit biased due to my experiences with deleting social media (they were Bueno), but I’ll try my best to stay neutral. I first downloaded Snapchat and Instagram upon entering middle school, around the same time as most of my friends. It solidified my new identity as a teenager, and I’d been consistently using it until my sophomore year. There was one month where my parents took my phone but other than that I was using it daily. With time, I became increasingly conscious of the negative impacts it has had on my life and mental health. But some personal changes in my life around my 16th birthday finally pushed me to delete the apps from my phone. I’ll point out I only deleted the apps, I didn’t have the drive to eliminate the accounts themselves. I’m a rising senior now and would be lying if I told you I haven’t used social media since I first deleted it. I certainly have. But other than a handful of Snapchat relapses & a couple of TikTok binges, I’ve been mostly offline. I don’t think there’s anything really special about my decision to limit my use, but I’m glad that it was done. I don’t encourage others to delete their social media, nor do I envy them for having it…everyone is different, and that’s what I’m going to be talking about today.
It’s not for all of us
I don’t think social media is for everyone. It has a bunch of benefits, but it also has some drawbacks. For some people (like myself) the cons outweigh the pros, and for others (potentially you) those cons are negligible and the pros stack sky-high. For some, the time usage might not be significant, but for others, it could be addicting. You might see it as a wonderful means of self-expression, while your amigos might doubt their self worth every time they don’t get enough likes. These things can impact your lifestyle, choices, and eventually your mental health. If you ask me, though, the whole idea is a bit unnatural and toxic. For example, look up “how was facebook created.” Mark Zuckerberg decided to create a website that ranked female Harvard students based on how they looked. That was one of his first successes preceding the creation of Facebook. The concept of choosing what you present about your life to the public is an inevitable breeding ground for judgment and misjudgment. Everyone has emotions, and it can be difficult to remind them that they’re consistently exposed to a reality that quite simply, isn’t real. This is especially for those who aren’t active. Studies show that involvement via posting and commenting can decrease the likelihood that your mental health is negatively impacted on social media. There are different downfalls of social media that I couldn’t possibly know about, but as I said, it’s different for everyone. But the same goes for the benefits. Some include staying in contact with others (useful during, say, a global pandemic), the opportunity to stay informed and choose your sources of information, and, again, it’s a cool way to express yourself.
So what do you do?
I remember once I tried convincing my friend to take a one week break, to which I was told, “No offense, but it’s probably a lot easier for you to do because you don’t talk to that many people,” to me this represents some of the toxicity that social media can breed; why does how many people I snap need to be compared? I believe that there’s always a solid reason to keep social media, be it to communicate for school or to keep your beloved snap-streaks intact. What you do after reading this article is totally up to you; here are my recommendations. Everyone should at least try taking a break from social media. It can be one day where you have someone else keep your Snapchat streaks, one week, one month, maybe even longer. There are no expectations, and nobody to judge you for trying it. You could feel some varying effects, good and bad. If you don’t use it at all for a day, you might have some extra time on your hands and have some subconscious feelings too. A week, that’s when the effects will begin to kick in. Not only will you have more time in your days, but you’ll feel more confident, comfortable with yourself, and to be completely cliché, cleansed. One negative with the longer periods is it could take a couple of days of getting used to it and it might even be hard to not decide to go back. Trust me though, you can do it! With time, you may realize that you aren’t missing out on a whole lot. The trends you wanted to stay updated weren’t that important, the lives of people you don’t know that well didn’t cross your mind more than a few times, and the memes weren’t missed. I think. I don’t know what’ll happen, this is my prediction. Feel free to prove me wrong! If you think Social media takes a toll on your mental health, another idea is to try and get more active. If you have any questions or want to know more about the idea feel free to email us or leave a comment.
Finally, you can request my Instagram if you want @d.hawan