Danielle Elkins: Staying positive in a world saturated with social media
August 3, 2017
Social media is so common even my grandparents use it, but is its popularity a good thing?
We live in a world saturated with social media — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and several other social media platforms are daily staples in many of our lives. We use social media to keep up with friends, family members, acquaintances, news, politics, celebrities and, wel, everything else in between.
But it turns out our seemingly harmless time spent on social media throughout the day may not be good for our mental health.
The American Psychiatric Association reports that findings from research studies suggest a link between spending extended time on social media and experiencing negative mental health outcomes. The APA also reports the more social media platforms an individual uses, the higher the risk for depression and anxiety.
This comes as no surprise to me since social media is often used as a place for bullies to spew hate while hiding behind their computer screens. But beyond that, social media is also a place where we showcase our lives to others, and view what they choose to show about their lives.
The problem is that most of us tend to share the more glamorous parts of our lives on social media — the vacations, new vehicles, new homes, beautiful weddings and other happy events — as if it's a stage. After all, we think glamour is what people want to see, and we're right in some ways.
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What we don't often see on social media is what goes on "behind the scenes" in others' lives. We don't see what the fitness blogger's abs look like after she's eaten all day, what the fashionable mom looks like at home in her old robe covered in baby food or the woman with the "perfect" marriage crying over an argument with her husband.
To make matters worse, there are smartphone applications to make users' photos ready for the stage that is social media. There are applications that minimize the look of blemishes, large pores and wrinkles, and others that make one's waist and thighs smaller while making the derrière appear disproportionately larger. We can all thank Kim Kardashian West for that unhealthy body image trend and the demand for an application to help women fake it.
Editing photos to change physical characteristics is basically lying, but there's nothing wrong with users only choosing to post the happier events in their lives to social media. It's nice to celebrate our joy with others, plus social media is a public platform, and some aspects of our lives aren't appropriate for public.
Still, it isn't hard to start feeling depressed about your own life, no matter how beautiful or successful you are, when you scroll through social media and compare it to the snapshots of others' lives.
If you find yourself feeling down because your life doesn't seem as glamorous as someone else's is portrayed to be, take a step back from social media and focus on the positivity around you.
An important rule of thumb we should all keep in mind while using social media is this: Don't compare your "behind the scenes" to another's "stage performance."