Social Pressures On Social Media

Social+Pressures+On+Social+Media

Molly O'Flynn, Staff Writer

Are you one of the many who has been negatively impacted by social media?

In this time and generation, social media has become a big part of our lives. People have become so invested in how they look in the public eye. Social media has created this false reality and unrealistic expectations which can be detrimental to a young person’s mental health.

People strive to look like celebrities and influencers. However, people do not discuss the toxicity that comes out of these irrational expectations. The beauty standards are unattainable because they are simply not real. Influencers use filters, makeup, surgery, and Photoshop to look the way they do. Doing this gives them validation, but also creates insecurities for people who watch them on social media. These social media influencers only show the best versions of themselves and not what they look like in real life, giving a false perception of beauty. People are judged based on their face, body shape, height, hair, etc. Males and females both are expected to look a certain way or they are not good enough. Females are expected to have a slim body with curves and a flat stomach, petite height, and perfect hair. According to an article “Effects of Social Media and Smartphone Use on Body Esteem in Female Adolescents: Testing a Cognitive and Affective Model,” “Nearly half (46%) of female adolescents reported their dissatisfaction with their weight in spite of a healthy body weight.” In other words, almost half of female adolescents are not happy with their body weight. This can create a toll on these female adolescents leading to various illnesses. Females with “poor body esteem” are at risk of developing an eating disorder. Females can also develop other mental illnesses that come with the lack of self esteem. Some develop depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia, among other things. It is important to understand all of the effects of what social media can do to a person. 

No one will ever be content with their appearance. There will always be someone “prettier” or have a “better body.” As said before, this false reality on social media platforms can damage a person’s mental state. Mental health is a serious topic and with the technology and platforms we have today, it can harm someone. As stated in the article “Online Social Networking and Mental Health,” people with lower self esteem tend to be more active on social media, which only makes their self esteem decrease. People like this compare themselves to others and want to change their appearance in order to feel less insecure. However, people say that once they change their appearance to look better for themselves and others, they will feel more confident and less depressed. However, the truth is, it only makes their self esteem lower. When people compare themselves to others, they can change everything about themselves, not just their appearance, but their personality as well. This will only make them feel worse about themselves because that is not who they truly are. Everything about them becomes fake. Some may feel happy after changing themselves completely, until they find someone else to compare themselves to. It becomes an endless cycle of comparison and change. While people are constantly altering and comparing themselves, they are still watching social media seeing more things for them to change about themselves. Social media is everywhere, so people are constantly comparing themselves to others in all settings, making it impossible to ignore. 

It has been said that these effects of social media are short term. However, the illnesses that come along with this are very much long term, such as eating disorders and anorexia. These illnesses can lead to hospitalization and even death. If social media was healthier and more realistic, this would not be such a large issue in society today. However, it is not possible for everyone to be happy with how they look with or without social media. 

There are certain parts of social media that are good and encouraging. Tik Tok is one of the biggest social media platforms right now and there are most definitely toxic sides to it. Nevertheless, there are people on it who share their own insecurities and issues, and they provide comfort for others, as well as body positivity. 

People will never be happy with themselves if they do not try to make a change in their daily lives. Small changes can start with what you are looking at on social media. More specifically, blocking out the negative and harmful pieces of it can be a start to a healthier mental state and life. Even shortening the screen time on social media can be effective. With this small alteration, people’s mindsets and behavior can improve. Larger changes would consist of taking a social media “cleanse,” which is deleting social media and focusing on themselves instead of everyone around them. Both options are very effective and can make a difference in a person’s life. Even though social media can be addictive, staying off of it and changing what you watch can make a difference in your mental health. 

Social media is a great way for people to communicate with their friends and make new ones, but it can also lead people to comparing themselves to others. Too much exposure to social media can result in people feeling more pressure to look or act like other people. This feeling will never change if people do not choose to change it and be happier. In order to prevent or slow down these social pressures on social media, people need to take breaks or delete social media.

* Image from commons.wikimedia.org, Creative Commons License