Social media has utterly changed our world, and like splitting the atom, its power cuts both ways.
So we won’t be bombarded by letters defending social media, let us admit right up front for many it’s been a boon. People are connecting with old friends they haven’t seen in years, they stay in touch with people they otherwise might lose, they raise funds for good causes, they get new ideas. I just connected with a friend whom I only learned on Facebook is suffering from cancer. I would have felt heartsick not to have connected with her during this devastating time, but I would have never known she was sick without social media.
At the same time, powerful tools shift our culture, our thinking, and view of relationships. Writer, Simon Sinek points our just how much. “There was a time when a desktop meant something horizontal and today a desktop means something vertical. It means a computer.” Our whole framework of ideas have shifted.
“It has changed the meaning of relationships as well,” he continues. A friend isn’t someone you check their status. A network is not on linked in. A conversation doesn’t happen on Twitter and a dialogue doesn’t happen on your blog. It’s a human experience. A conversation has reactions and advancing ideas, and it’s not just people taking turns to speak, which is what happens online.”
Something so powerful in re-orienting our thinking and shifting our paradigms deserves some analysis. So, our readers weighed in on how this revolution has impacted their lives—and particularly if social media pains them in any way.
Lyndsey, who is a mental health professional said, “Patients report all the time on the psych unit that Facebook and social media in general impacts their mental health negatively.”
Impact on Teenagers
Nobody seems more susceptible to the negative impacts than the young. Many studies like the one conducted at Florida State University in 2014 have found that frequent social media usage negative impacted adolescent girls’ sense of worth. Readers tended to agree.
My oldest daughter would be in her room lying down in her bed in the fetal position because she wasn’t pretty or skinny enough, all due to Facebook posts of girls from school! We didn’t let her have Facebook, but she got friends passwords and viewed Facebook from theirs. It was terrible for years and has taken her years to be somewhat settled that she has value. Most of what she compared herself to were super skinny girls with sexy photos that she used to term “artistic” photos to justify why she viewed them.
Stacey, also a health care professional said:
It’s so hard for kids/teens now to have social media be part of their lives. In my line of work we see a lot of kids who are victims to cyber bullying or see activities others are doing that they were not invited to. In my opinion, it adds to the pressures for teens to fit in.
One comment I heard a client say was that her dad took away her phone and by doing that took away her childhood.
Catherine shared a success story:
I thought this observation from my niece who is a high school senior was interesting. She said last year she had a group of friends who decided when they got together they would leave all their phones (except for one in case of emergency) in the car or at someone’s house. That way they wouldn’t be on their phones and they would focus on each other. She said those friends are still her very closest friends.
She has a group of friends this year who haven’t chosen to make the same decision, they are often on their phones when they are together, and she said those relationships just aren’t as strong. This is less about comparison and more about just being present. But I think they are connected. Those who are present learn to be more content with who they are and get to know those around them for who they are. Not who they portray themselves to be through a filtered lens. Like Facebook or Instagram.
Kids are willing to say very unkind things because they can anonymously. Of course, it brings someone down.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.