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The pressures of social media

We cannot escape social media. It is everywhere. As it becomes increasingly more important in our society, the pressures it puts on its users is also increasing.
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Rhea Jones/Dear Mom and Dad. (BRENT CALVER/Western Wheel)

We cannot escape social media. It is everywhere.

As it becomes increasingly more important in our society, the pressures it puts on its users is also increasing. Social platforms are so integrated in our society that everyone, from large businesses to elementary students, is using it as a resource to connect with others.

Although this generally seems like a positive movement, it becomes problematic when we turn to social media in search of validation. Validation that we are liked, validation that we are successful, and that people care about our accomplishments. Whatever it is that we are searching for, social media can be a beguiling place to find it.

Dear Mom & Dad, here’s why social media is so important to teenagers and some of the pressure that comes with it.

Although many adults and parents use social media, there is a major gap between generations regarding the degree of importance social media holds in their lives. Parents often see the Internet as a place where kids can share details about their lives and talk to one another.

However, it is so much more than that. Our identities and connection with our peers are heavily dependent on the Internet. Furthermore, having an online presence is important in our generation. Many kids take a lot of pride in what they share and who they are on the Internet. In saying that, it’s pretty much necessary that we have social media and simply deleting it is not the solution to getting rid of its pressures.

One of the biggest downfalls of social media is how easy it is to get caught up in comparing yourself with others.

Angelina Kierzek, a Grade 11 student from Foothills Composite, says that while she is scrolling through social platforms she often questions whether she is pretty enough or skinny enough compared to other girls. However, according to Angelina, the best way to overcome this is to care less about what others think.

“If you like the picture or the video that you posted just be proud of it. You obviously posted it for a reason so who cares about the amount of likes that it gets,” she said.

Speaking of likes, another thing kids often compare is the number of likes or followers someone has, as it’s often considered a sign of popularity. This is problematic to the point where social platforms like Instagram are experimenting with whether or not people should be able to see how many likes a post receives.

When trying to give advice on these matters, parents often say, “Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet.” Everyone’s been told this countless times, but in reality, it’s very hard to decide what you should believe. This is because what people are sharing is not necessarily false, it’s what they aren’t sharing that’s misleading. People only post the final result but never share the failed attempts or struggles that it took to get them there.

They post a great picture of themselves, but, they don’t share the fact that they took hundreds of pictures just to get that perfect shot. It’s great that we have a platform to share our successes, but just remember that everyone experiences failure as well.

Regardless of the negativity that comes with social media, it’s something we rely on and realistically can’t just get rid of. However, we can improve the way we approach it. There is a lot of pressure that comes with having an online presence so try to reflect on what you would like to gain from it, and make sure that is what you are receiving.