By Emmeline Chu.
Our generation thrives on virtual reality technologies. In an alternate reality, it would be inconceivable for those who rely on it. With technology comes benefits, such as entertainment and instantaneous communication; however, technology can be harmful to many who depend on it without the ability to govern it. As years go by, an increasing amount of young children are exposed to a technology called social media. Social media enables users to associate with others via the internet. What is intended to be a common ground for people to create and share content, ideas, and life updates with peers has also become a tool for attacks and toxic behavior.
The material posted by some users are often carefully selected to fabricate a desirable life and absurd expectation of what it is supposed to be. As phenomenal as it appears in the viewers’ eyes, a seemingly perfect person on social media cannot be considered as a norm. Regularly, viewers and users especially adolescents are brainwashed with images of the ideal bodies of men and women. Users tend to compare themselves to the photo shopped body and facial images that are deemed to be perfect. Unrealistic expectations like this generate self-loathing attitude at a young age. More extreme cases may result in eating disorders and unnecessary cosmetic surgeries.
Not only being passively harmful, but social media can also be utilized in cruel ways to actively undermine another’s self-esteem. As despicable as this sounds, it is extremely common among teenagers. If anonymity is necessary to deliver malicious remarks, then it is definite that the bully either lacks empathy, has extremely low self-esteem, or feels socially pressured into doing so; none of which can be justified, but all frankly denote pathetic cowardliness. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words KILLED THEM.” I refer to the title of an informative video I watched in grade school. I remember seeing the countless numbers of teenagers and below their images were the dates they ended their lives. Kids do not grasp the actual severity of their diabolical and disrespectful language or actions until they are the ones bullied and victimized.
Of course, there are children who are raised in nourishing households that provide attention and care, who are likely taught to be kind to others. But they will not understand the significance of words until someone is cruel to them, until they experience the hurt behind the words.
Another disadvantage of social media is that it has transformed into a platform where people vent and vehemently disagree on sensitive topics. Instead of applying facts and evidence to critical reasoning, people tend to surrender to their emotions which escalates to hateful, oppressive, or racist verbal attacks. Frequently, I witness political disagreements among my friends where both sides become offended and outraged. It is obvious that neither side is truly educated about the other or their own when they start spewing disrespectful comments at each other. Arguably, it is considered human to feel emotions, but the use of discriminatory or oppressive language is not condoned, especially for those who claim themselves to be educated. No one can consider any side to be educated unless that side can defend the opposing and attack their own side. In other words, understand both sides, not just the side believed is right.
If one is observant, then it should be obvious that social media is not the issue; unfortunately, the users and participants are. Problems are generated when people post spurious content because of their own insecurities, not necessarily aware that it negatively impacts other users. I for one do not believe there is an obvious solution for these detrimental situations teens are put it. If there were, this would not be a problem that demands attention today.
Of course, if you are a student reading this, consider the benefits and disadvantages of being an active user on social media. Remember that what you decide to comment and post effects everyone who reads it. Do not put forth a facade because of your insecurities. This simple, yet powerful action distorts other people’s self-image and encourages them into doing so as well.