By Maura, 20, New York City, NY
So, I know it’s easy to just simply say that social media is toxic, but what do you follow up with that? Have you ever ever stepped back and dissected why its toxic or perhaps maybe different solutions to this issue? Well I haven’t either, until recently. When I think about social media, I think of how toxic it can be and the power it has in contributing to a negative self image and perception of myself and others. Its hard for me to focus on the positives of social media, such as networking and reconnecting with long lost friends and family, when I am more worried about why I got this many likes on a post and this other girl got 100 more likes or why her stomach looks like that and mine doesn’t. And trust me, I am not proud that my mind goes immediately to these thoughts, but I know that I am not the only one that thinks like this, which is a major issue.
I think of social media as an addictive drug, and I know that sounds really bad to say but hear me out; apps like Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter, their users post to receive recognition and praise from their followers and once we get this recognition from the amount of likes or shares or whatever it is on the app, we want it more and more. But on the other side of it, when we don’t get the likes we wanted, we then do whatever it takes to get those likes on our next post and what we may not realize as users is that this vicious cycle is harming us in the long run, just like an addictive drug. This never-ending cycle results in an increased rate of anxiety and depression in all users of social media, no matter what age or gender. We are all single handedly putting one another in danger by posting fake pictures of ourself, and the reality is that we, as users, all play a part in making social media toxic without even noticing it.
If you are anything like me (literally a basic 20 year old girl) then I am sure everything I have said already, you have probably talked with your friends about at some point. However, what me and my friends have failed to talk about is what possible solutions could be to the toxicity of social media, and so I started to think a little bit harder about it.
Look, if I see one more “quirky girl” post a picture on Instagram, that, by the way, is just 100% facetuned to begin with, with the caption of “make Instagram casual again!” I am going to lose it. It is not that easy to just rebrand yourself and make your profile “casual” when no one even knows what that means to begin with. And also, what makes this picture So that solution is out.
In a perfect world, I want social media to make us feel good about ourselves. I want my social media to serve as a place where I can find inspiration and motivation on my explore page, not unrealistic pictures of fashion models reminding me this is what I should look like and be wearing, which I will just never physically be able to do. I think that the creators of social media should regulate what is deemed good content on the explore pages of users in order to protect society from harmful content. But also, at some point, us as users must take initiative to find posts that inspire and motivate us and to stop looking and posts that make us upset and make us question us our self worth.
If you’re gonna take anything away from this, take this away - be yourself. Be natural. Don’t be fake. Don’t compare yourself to others. Find what motivates you. Unfollow the users that make you feel less than who you are. And maybe then, social media will be less toxic and will promote more positivity than negativity.