By Julia Francisco
Los Angeles, Calif.
WE ALL know social media can be helpful, but is it possible that it is doing more harm than good? Posts and likes con-nect people by the minute around the globe through platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter. These platforms can bring business, awareness, connections, and even acceptance. Yet they can also cause manipulation, toxic-ity, and mental health problems.
Social media users range across all ages: kids, teens, and adults. With unchecked content posted around the clock, it is no surprise that misinformation circulates widely across platforms, across the country and across the world. It may not seem like a big deal, but when impressionable audiences start to believe and share the information they come across on social media without fact-checking, our collective knowledge is tainted.
Many times, misleading information centers public figures. When enough angry people have liked, commented, and shared the information, users collaborate to “cancel” the person. “Cancel culture,” as it’s called, shuns people from society and allows for them to be publicly “dragged” and harassed by the users on these platforms. It is seen as a form of justice, but is it really justice or just bullying?
Social media is also a performative space, where people are made to believe that they have to appear flawless in front of their audience. Many social media feeds include dance routines, selfies and makeup trends. These posts may seem harmless, but when users—especially young people—are constantly re-minded of what they don’t have, it can take a toll on their mental health. Many start to compare them-selves to celebrities and influencers. They wonder why their bodies aren’t shaped like an hourglass, or why their skin doesn’t look perfect. Others value themselves only by the number of followers and likes they’ve accumulated, and some deal with trolls and hateful comments. Numerous users do find a community of acceptance online, but many also find a world of toxicity.
Although social media was de-signed to keep people connected, with all the lies, hate, envy, and dismay it produces, social media has actually brought disconnection to the world. We have to remind ourselves that social media is just a show, and that we are perfectly imperfect beings. I do not mean to advocate for the deletion of social media, but simply to encourage the occasional reprieve. Consider this a reminder to take breaks from the cyber world to protect yourself and your mental health.