Too Social?


Social media is such a large part of our everyday lives. Most people wake up and immediately check their phones to see what they missed while asleep and check it regularly throughout the day even if nothing has occurred. After being forced to go completely online when COVID hit the United States, many of our social media habits have continued. While there are many pros to social media, the challenges and negatives seem to trump them. High school students are especially impacted by both pros and cons of social media. It is used as a way to communicate and spend information, which overall is very helpful but can easily be used in a harmful way.   

As seen in our high schools, social media often is used negatively and in a harmful way. In order to change this, we need to change the ways we use social media to spread positivity in order to also receive it.

Design vs. Delivery

Social media was never designed to be a harmful tool, and many of its uses are very helpful for our world today. It was designed to make our world more efficient and connected. These benefits keep evolving for the better when social media evolves too. While there are negatives we now rely on social media to continue the pros and efficiency that it has created. 

When thinking about the pros of social media, there are many to think about especially during times of recent social isolation due to Covid. Social media provides people with easy access to communication with others especially at times when we have not been able to see other people in person due to having to quarantine. Kristina Bloomfield, a junior at Hickman, talked about how social media has been a positive influence in her life “A positive impact of social media is being able to communicate with people.” Another pro of social media being seen more and more is people being able to make a living off of being influencers on different social media platforms like Tiktok and Instagram. Using social media and producing popular content increases your chances of going viral online, which can possibly make you money and provide you with more chances for paid content from brands. As well as influencer jobs, as social media is becoming a great place for marketing to an audience that is now easily captured, it is  providing new jobs that are social media marketing/advertising jobs. Isaac Lewis, a senior at Hickman, said social media “gives me an outlet and way to connect to the LGBTQIA+ community from a small, arguably conservative town.” Social media provides you with a sense of community in an area which may not be that supportive to that community, allowing you to feel support from a certain group online. Seen a lot now is the use of social media as a platform for activism. This was seen especially during the summer of 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement was very prominent and lots of people were not able to go out and protest, so they turned to social media as a means of protesting and activism. When used in moderation, social media also provides fun to many. Such platforms allow people to keep up with their friends, uplift their mood, and provide fun online activities to participate in. It’s important to follow reliable social media accounts, and when you do Social Media can be a great way for learning of current events and news and staying up to date, making social media be able to be used in an educational way. While acknowledging the cons of social media is important, you shouldn’t just look at the negatives but should also understand the positives, and know that social media is not just one big negative pit of toxicity that many say it is. When used correctly, responsibly, and in moderation, social media can be a great thing in many ways.

Impossible Expectations

While there are benefits of having social media, there are many ways social media can negatively impact people. With the heavy usage of social media comes multiple side effects that ultimately affect our mental health, productivity and focus, as well as how we view reality. An obvious negative aspect of social media is that it can consume the precious time we have that we could be using productively or by being present with the people we love. Dina Albahhash, a senior at Hickman, explained how social media steals her time, “I can stay on Tik Tok for probably two hours straight even though I could be doing something else, instead I’m just on my phone.” Social media can be very addicting and the more time spent scrolling through the hundreds of posts and videos, the more time gets lost. Not only is social media addicting, but the addiction creates a cause and effect factor,  “It can be a big distraction,” said junior, Kristina Bloomfield. Social media is so addicting that it causes it to become a distraction that takes away from our focus on our responsibilities like school, work, and so much more. Social media can also be overwhelming, especially when you are able to see what everyone you follow is up to, “If I’m stressed out and then I go on social media and see something that someone’s doing that makes me wish I was there, it makes me feel more stressed out,” said Dina. The fear that you’re missing out is a common theme with social media that causes many teens to experience mental health issues.  Another way social media negatively affects our lives is by depreciating the way we view ourselves and the world. It creates a need for approval and constant comparison to other people. Freshman, Elizabeth Odette, stated, “Social media can provide a lot of negative expectations, or impossible expectations.” Social media can imprint certain societal expectations that have caused many mental health issues amongst many people, especially teenagers. “It depreciates the value of life,” said senior Issac Lewis, “When you scroll on Instagram and see Jacob Eldordi or Sydney Sweeney looking hot as hell, you have to remember no one is perfect. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is no strict list that defines beauty.” An extensive amount of time is spent on social media each day and we can only begin to wonder if it is affecting the way we communicate with one another, “Because I spend most of my time on social media, it doesn’t allow me to communicate with people face to face. It’s not helping me become a better person socially with other people.” Social media greatly affects our communication skills, skills we need to be successful in many aspects of our lives. Lastly, social media is where we obtain most of our news and invites a mass import of dishonest articles. This makes it difficult to tell reality from the illusion created by others. Isaac Lewis gave an insight, “When it comes to fake news, social media does a terrible job of showering it and over-dramatizes the unreal,” said Issac. With every positive impact of social media, comes a negative impact and it’s important to beware of the dark sides of social media.

So…what do we do?

Mental Health:

  • Only follow people whose posts make the user happy.
    • If someone is posting things that make the user feel bad about themself, unfollow them. If someone posts things that the user disagrees with, and that upsets the user, unfollow them. It isn’t worth the users mental health for them to see what the upsetting people post.
  • Only click on posts that the user wants to see more of.
    • The Instagram algorithm is built so that what the user clicks on and looks at, is what it will keep showing the user. The algorithm is built to make the user stay on the app for as long as possible, the way that it does this is by analyzing what the user looks at. If you look at something, it is going to show you more of that thing to keep you on the app for longer. If the user doesn’t want to see something, then they should not click on it. If the user doesn’t click something, or doesn’t spend time looking at it, the algorithm won’t show it to the user because it will not keep them on the app.
  •  Post positive things, and respond to the user’s friends’ posts positively.
    • It is important to see social media as a positive thing in the users life, but it is also important to make the users’ social media a positive thing in other people’s life. By posting positive things and reacting to others’ posts positively, the user can help make social media a healthy thing in everyone’s life.
  •  Make sure that social media is not the only social interaction in the user’s life.
    • It is very easy for the user to think that they have been interacting with other people all day, while in reality it has just been through social media. This is not good for the users mental health, humans need face-to-face social interaction in their lives. When people think that they have been interacting, when in reality it has just been through a phone screen, they can damage their mental health and social skills severely.

Reducing Time on Social Media:

  • Use an app to track how much time the user spends on social media.
    • Most social media users have no idea how much time they truly spend on social media. By using an app to track the time spent on social media, the user can figure out ways in which to cut down that time. By figuring out they have a problem, the problem can be more easily solved.
  • Disable social media notifications.
    • When the user’s phone dings with a new notification from social media, the natural instinct is to pick up the phone and look at it. This is a rational response, but not a good one. Once the app has drawn the user in with a notification, the app will try to keep the user in it for as long as possible. Checking the user’s notification has just eaten up a lot of their time. By disabling notifications the user can cut down their time spent on social media and have more time for everything else in their life.