By: Katie Quigley
Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows that I love to take walks. Walking is a huge stress reliever; it helps me clear my head. One of the things that my friend, Allie, and I are notorious for is taking walks around town. Rain or shine, Allie and I have been taking on the streets of Caldwell since the eighth grade. This summer, we did quite a lot of walking. It was on one of these walks that the topic of social media came up, and I realized how backwards our perception of it is.
Social media has become the quickest, most surefire way to make people think you’re a lot cooler than you really are. For a long time, I thoughtlessly followed this trend. Teenagers view Instagram as a way to promote their self-worth. The more likes and comments they get, the better their reputation is. Getting into this mindset is, clearly, very detrimental on a variety of levels. One of the main reasons this is a problem is because most teenagers don’t actually act like themselves on their social media. So many people my age plan their posts before they even take the picture. This planning encompasses a mental image of what the picture will look like, a filter, a caption, a specific day of the week, and an exact time (in order to get the most likes, of course). In other words, a majority of the posts you see coming from teenagers on Instagram are scripted. High schoolers are basing their importance off of the popularity of their alter-ego. If there’s anything we, as a society, should be taking action on regarding American teenagers; this should be a topic of interest.
A year ago, I wrote an article via The Caldron titled “Social Media Is Not Real.” This article regards Essena O’Neill, a former Instagram model who gave up all social media after becoming aware of the toxicity of it. To be honest, when I wrote that article, I didn’t completely understand where she was coming from. The person I was a year ago was so sucked into the fakeness of it all that I completely missed her point. To disclaim, I am not against all social media. It can be a really positive and fun thing if it’s used properly. However, what I understand now that I did not comprehend then is that Essena left social media because she was done with having a reputation built on the opinions of people she did not know. Social media becomes destructive when your online persona begins affecting you in your real life.
Deleting my Instagram was probably one of the best things I could have done for myself this summer. Keeping away from the negative absurdities of it all is very beneficial to me. However, I have found that you don’t have to ditch social media entirely. Personally, I think it can be really entertaining. I now have another account that I only allow my friends to follow me on. I can post whatever I want, whenever I want; it’s a great way to use social media based on it’s original purpose- simply socializing with your friends. I urge you, as well, to move on from the virulent effects of social media abuse. Talking (or maybe even walking) with your friends, face to face, is a better use of your time than social media will ever be.