The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

In today’s society, social media is a very broad term. To go back a few years ago, it would have been limited to MySpace and solely meant for additional communication. Social media has now made a drastic change and become a staple in today’s society. It is now the primary basis for any type of communication; social media has skipped being functional and is beginning to become a necessity. From personal to professional use, it is utilized by almost everybody.

What has Social Media done, exactly?

Social media has created not just a new form of communication, but also the opportunity to create a new identity. Flawless selfies and perfectly plated foods are now an art form and giving millennials the opportunity to create a pseudo life in which everything seems impeccable. Needless to say, this longing to create the appearance of perfection and superiority eventually effects the mental health of the poster (not to mention the followers). The desire to be liked, envied and admired is human nature, but when it becomes an obsession is when it becomes a problem.

The effects on the Poster

The idea of creating a perfect, ideal life is not one that is an individual goal — this facade is encouraged by the number of followers each user gets. An article I found in the New York Times titles “On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real” it is explained that young adults are now creating fake instagrams (called a “finstagram”) to depict their actual lives. A finstagram, by definition is a private instagram account in which only personally known friends can follow which portrays this person’s “real life” (or as real a they choose to show), as opposed to a public page in which everything seems to be exactly right. Finstagrams usually only have a small number of followers, anywhere from 25 to a couple hundred, as opposed to an open page which would have anywhere from the thousands to the millions.

This pseudo life effects everyone involved, directly or indirectly. Mental health is an ongoing issue on the rise since the 90’s and is only getting worse with social media. The instagram accounts created to represent a certain lifestyle eventually consumes the individual behind the screen — it is now their duty to post something for their followers. It begins as an exciting way to portray your life and eventually becomes an expectation as well as a necessity. Needless to say, this overwhelming expectation to regularly post your perfect life can get stressful enough, but what truly impacts the person behind the screen is the number of likes. Creating the perfect picture is a process of trial and error, and when an acceptable picture is finally chosen, receiving less likes on it than expected is bound to hurt the poster’s self esteem.

The Followers

On the opposite end of the screen are hundreds and sometimes thousands of people Not recognizing the amount of time and energy went into creating that one picture that looks so effortlessly candid. It is human nature to compare ourselves to each other and social media not only makes this habit easier, it is more detrimental. Young girls are influenced daily with magazines and music videos and now are being shown profiles of “instagram models” and illusions of a false life, wondering why they’re life doesn’t seem quite as picture perfect as the perfect picture they see in front of them.

This generation is obsessed with creating a name for themselves and going as far as needed to make this happen. From dangerous stunts, such as planking and the cinnamon challenge, to creating violent games like the knock out game. At this point, importance is placed on recognition and to go viral regardless of the consequences that follow.

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