By Reese Burns, Assistant Editor
We live in a world heavily influenced by social media. Let’s be honest, we probably spend the majority of our free time on Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms. I am by no means trying to make anyone feel bad about this because I can admit that I spend a lot more time on social media than I probably should. It’s not necessarily our fault either. This is the world we grew up in. The age of the “screenagers,” or whatever they are referring to us as. I just think it’s crucial that every once in a while, we take the time to reflect on the type of content we are exposing ourselves to, and the impact it has on us.
I believe the main issue most people can agree on is the fact that with social media comes cyberbullying, and the possibility of coming across an account that spreads hate. Clearly, this is unacceptable, and although the guidelines of many social media platforms attempt to prevent this sort of behavior from occurring, it is often overlooked by those with the power to stop it from happening. As young adults working our way through high school, we are incredibly susceptible to falling into this realm of negativity. Whether that means we are the victims of online bullying, or even the bully, it’s a really damaging environment to be associated with on both sides of the screen. My advice is to evaluate your purpose on social media and its purpose for you. Is it benefitting you in some way? Or is it harming you? Step back and think about it for a moment.
This next topic is a sensitive one, and is something that I am personally very passionate about. Diet culture and the skewed perception of health. All throughout social media, spanning across every platform, exists the infamous diet culture. Within this culture, fad diets, restrictions, and unrealistic expectations thrive on the insecurities of their audience. Quite frankly, it is this genre of the internet that creates difficult and unhealthy relationships with food, exercise, and the overall vision of health.
The toxic and persuasive nature of diet culture convinces people that if they follow a highly specific, restrictive, and low-calorie diet, paired with intense cardio, they will be able to achieve health and happiness. However, the vision of happiness they are suggesting is one that stems from the most recent rendition of the “perfect body”. As the notion of the perfect body rotates over time with all different body types, diet culture takes advantage of this and the mindset it creates to establish a sort of reward. It instills this vision of perfection into the minds of those it happens to infect and forces onto them the idea that if they don’t have this body type, they aren’t good enough. There are public figures who use this damaging ideology to attract attention to their account without acknowledging the consequences and the harm they cause.
With all this being said, I cannot enunciate enough the importance of monitoring the content you see on social media. The kinds of expectations and unrealistic portrayals of so-called perfection and happiness that are broadcast on such platforms are entirely inaccurate, and are complete scams. What most people our age don’t realize is the beauty of our individuality and the very fact that health looks different on everyone! Do your very best to ignore the negativity online and instead fill your screens with positivity. Lastly, don’t be afraid or ashamed if you have been wrapped up in a negative situation on the internet and know that it is okay to ask for help.