Social media. Two words as simple and non-threatening as words can be, but when placed next to each other, an entire society is controlled and defined. There are endless things in life that aren’t the same anymore. As cliché as the phrase “you never know you’re in the good old days until they’re over” is, it’s true. Something that has become one of the most influential aspects of life in just the past two decades? Social media.
However, this kind of development is not always a bad thing. Things shouldn’t always be “as before”, because life would be boring! There’s a difference between memories and grieving, like it’s a major loss to change. However, as waves of change come and go with the calendar, the social media growth epidemic has come like a tsunami, leaving lasting benefits but simultaneous damage.
I’m a senior in high school, I’m 17; social media is something i grew up with. In elementary school, we played woodchip tag and red rover, but we also created instagram profiles and snapchat accounts. Certainly, whether or not it is a parent’s job to monitor, or even allow such things to happen all together, there is debate regarding the vast world of social media that children are exposed to at ages of younger and younger, a debate that I can’t say I have much experience with (other than the fact that I was once the kid in this scenario). So that poses an inevitable question that plagues every conversation on social media: do the pros outweigh the cons? Even as a member of Generation Z, this is a difficult question for me to answer. Initially, I said yes… and no.
My older sister, a solid millennial, longs for the days when a teenager only had to compare herself to the models of the Cosmopolitan magazines in the hair salon. These days, all we have to do is click on an app and we’re inundated with every friend, acquaintance and foe within 500 miles, and facetuned and sponsored celebrities, all ripe for our viewing consumption. This is called the “social media comparison trap”. A trap, set down the painfully endless rabbit hole of subconsciously comparing ourselves to other highlight reels.
After:Sarah Brown: Let the power of music bring people together in Galesburg
There is real research to support the idea that social media has negative effects, contributing to serious problems: body dysmorphia, depression, and bullying, especially among young and impressionable people. Kids my age no longer just face the scrutiny of dirty looks in the hallways, jealous ex-girlfriends and whether or not we made a varsity team. Now we’re faced with the unsubscribe button, the followers we’ve displayed on our accounts for all to see, and the feeling that people you’ve never had a real live chat with might be taking a negative view of you. It’s an overwhelming and confusing thing to navigate. Yet despite all of this, I advocate the use of social media. I know… you might be thinking “How could anyone in good conscience support what has the potential to do damage?”. I hear that. But I know it can also be a beautiful thing. While it’s undeniable that constant comparison is damaging, the majority of the articles I’ve read about this “comparison trap” were written by someone over 50. That doesn’t make them any less correct or believable, but I think maybe it makes them more out of the loop frankly. Peers my age are more likely to see the benefits of our endless sweeping, and those who have known a world without it are more likely to see the downsides.
My main argument for using social media is that no other generation has ever had so much information at their fingertips. We are activists, before we graduated from high school. For some, this may be nonsense. But it’s the most natural resource we have, young people with a phone. I get it, that sounds bad. I believe in unplugging, doing things that matter, like spending time with the ones you love.
After:Joe Hicks: Small positive changes can have a big impact on Galesburg
Yet why is there such a negative connotation around social media when it has the power to do so much good? It brings those thousands of miles together. It brings inspiration, hope in dark times. He brings education. It brings the future closer with every click.
social media; It is a blessing and a curse. It’s up to you what you do with it. There is always evil with good. Don’t let yourself fall into the ever-tempting ‘trap’, and instead allow yourself to become not a slave to the screen, but a savorer of the endless knowledge it can give. If you choose to be behind a screen, be on the good side, not the bad.
Sarah Brown is a Williamsfield High School student with a passion for writing. She contributes to the weekly column Many Paths.