Is leaving social media worth it?

Peyton Dripps, Staff Writer

Since the start of the pandemic, online connections have continued to expand, becoming a daily part of most young people’s lives. With a simply slide and tap of your finger, you are opened into a world of social interaction. There are many benefits of using social media. Families and friends can stay connected at times when distance separates them, and online dating has become a popular trend for those who prefer virtual interaction to physical settings. Logging onto social media each day, particularly Instagram and Facebook, has strengthened many relationships. However at the same time, such media has contributed to some of society’s biggest problems. Feelings of isolation, a lack of emotional connection and a decline in social skills have all been reported problems linked to the widespread increase in usage of social media. As individuals living in a digital society, the question for us largely comes down to: are you going to stay with the trend, or leave social media forever to make a statement about living a screen-free life?

With national quarantine compelling millions to fill long, idle hours with screen-time, many, particularly women, were greatly affected by social media and its impact on self esteem and body image. Watching Tiktok stars and seeing posts on Facebook applauding women in small bikinis or clothing correlated with an increase in the rate at which women in the United States developed eating disorders. The prevalence of unrealistic beauty standards on social media can cause young women to believe that they are not beautiful, muscular or skinny enough to post what others do on the internet. Women across the country have now grown accustomed to watching and celebrating those who edit their bodies in pictures on the internet. Psychotherapist F. Diane Barth shared with NBC News, “While Facebook and Instagram do promote unrealistic body images, many advertisers and more traditional media forms have been doing the same thing for decades — way before the rise of social media.”

Social media has helped many teens facing depression and anxiety stay connected and reach out to peers during lockdowns, but do the effects of its overuse warrant giving up social media altogether? Many Facebook users have opined that deleting the app will disconnect them from the world. Others continue to open Facebook to look back on their past memories – whether with an ex, an old friend or family members. It seems that as a society we are addicted to these social media applications, precisely what their creators want most. With each update, we become more and more attached to our phones. Snapchat (a significant culprit of cultivating “addictive” social media) witnessed a huge uptick in the amount of times users logged on each day.

To address the elephant in the room: many people want to leave social media, but few actually can. It will take a majority of the population to leave social media to make a change. Barth ends her discussion with NBC News with her statement, “The decision to leave Facebook is as complicated as the decision to end a long term friendship — again, the irony isn’t lost.” Leaving anything that you at one point thought was necessary or important is always hard, but it is time to make a change as a society to resolve the many issues that come with social media.

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