The other day I was watching the news and a story came across questioning the effects social media is having on today’s youth. The report talked about these online interaction damaging social skills within teens. It’s making them struggle in face-to-face communication and they aren’t able to articulate themselves as well as they were once able. It also mentioned how these interactions has perpetuated a sense of depression and loneliness within the youth; where they’ve isolated themselves from the real world and are merely living through the images and communication they receive through social media.
It got me thinking, and I found a lot of merit in the report’s observations. According to the CDC the suicide rate among teen girls has more than doubled, and among boys has risen 30 percent between 2007 to 2015. Many believe that social media has been a catalyst for the rise, as it perpetuates body image issues, a feeling of inadequacy, and cyber bullying. Now, I know it’s easy to argue that people shouldn’t care, this stuff shouldn’t make a difference to how someone sees themselves, and that teens should know better than to fall for false depictions in ads. However, it’s simply too easy to say, harder to do.
Social media has so many benefits to its creation, its allowed people to network and find different avenues of creative expression. I can’t being to tell you how many artists I’ve seen become popular off blogs on Tumblr, or through sharing their work on Instagram. We’ve seen the rise in Youtube stars making it big; people like Hannah Hart, who just got her own Food Network show, Zoella, who has her own beauty and lifestyle line, even Marlena Stell who started Makeup Geek thanks to her millions of supportive followers. Even more so bloggers have grown in popularity as well, people like Lily Pebbles and Anna from TheAnnaEdit, who have been able to turn what they love into careers thanks to the oppertunity social media gives.
That said, it isn’t all flowers and rainbows. The dark side of social media comes like a cancer – slow under the surface, until it manifests into something more painful. I have personally been a victim to this blight, scrolling through blogs, Youtubes, Instagrams of the people who inspire me and feeling the slow in-crouch of depression. When someone spends so many hours looking through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and seeing all these other people living wonderful lives, happy and successful and full of friends and experiences, it makes others feel like they’re inadequate. It’s by no means the fault of the owners of those social medias, it all comes with the mindset that America has pushed since we were kids.
America has always praised the 1 percent. It has rewarded the celebrities, encouraged the sports-players, backed up the businessmen, while leaving the middle and lower classes to fight and fend for themselves. Commercialism is at an all time high, pushing products to buy and items to own, marketing them as if material possessions and overspending yourself is the key to happiness. Sadly, most people have fallen into it, that’s why this has become a country of debt. Debt, because people are depressed, looking across the spectrum of online interaction, seeing others happier than they are, so they try to buy more to compensate for what’s lacking in their lives.
We have been born and raised into a society of money is happiness, and because of it so many teens fall victim to its grasp. They see the gorgeous women in ads and want to be just like them. They try to lose weight, get all the pretty clothes and beautiful hair and makeup, and when they can’t achieve it – they feel inferrer. They try to have a gaggle of friends, the hardest abs, the best car, but when they fall short – they feel defeated. They look across social media at happy faces, success, futures that they feel they can never achieve – they feel lost. These feelings spiral into an uncontrollable depression, in pain and emotional suffering, and they feel they aren’t good enough to be happy, so they aren’t good enough to exist.
I’ve dealt with these very emotions for so long, I can attest there is merit in these concerns. However, it is not the fault of the creators of blogs, Youtubes, or Instragrams, it is the fault of the society in which we live. I believe it’s time that we stopped pushing materialistic obsessions and started supporting creative outlets and build more achievable futures. Personally, it shouldn’t matter which class you’re in. If you put the work in, doors should open and money shouldn’t be a qualifier when talent and drive speak more than dollar signs. Maybe then teens would see the future as a brighter place, and not feel the need to compare themselves to anyone else. They’d feel they are worth the same success.
What do you guys think about this? Let me know in the comments or via Twitter.