Skyler Simpkins ’23
One of the major cornerstones of our lives today is social media. We worship this software that allows us to judge other people behind the protection of a username and a profile image of our favorite celebrity. Indeed, cyberbullying has experienced a proliferation due to the ability social media has given us to de-individuate ourselves from a decent human being to the most critical, omnipotent being that has ever existed. These issues social media breeds between relationships on the internet is a major problem of today, but what about the relationship malfunction produced by social media regarding our relationship to ourselves?
Scrolling through your Instagram page, you will be bombarded with images of your peers having the most fun of their lives, images of celebrities glorifying their wealth, and images of influencers reminding you that they have the most perfect body. All of this imagery does a disservice to our mental health by creating a false image of perfection. We envision the perfect body, the perfect amount of money, the perfect house, the perfect friends, and, once we pop out of this daydream, we are tossed into a black hole of despair for a “perfect” life that is unattainable, and we are consciously aware.
Social media causes us to learn helplessness and continually feel inadequate about living our lives because they are worlds apart from the glorified life we see on social media. So why do we keep devoting so much time to it? Surely if it affected our mental health this much, we would willingly step away from it. Right?
Unfortunately, that is not the reality behind any kind of addiction. Scrolling through our daily feeds and observing all those “perfect” lives generates an almost euphoric feeling in us as we are imagining ourselves in that position. It is when we fall off that high horse that we begin to feel helplessly inadequate. The unattainable model of perfection is proliferated throughout social media platforms, and I truly believe we will never be able to stop the growth of this imagery, but there are a few ways that we could make the individual choice to stand up against it.
Body positivity has represented one option of combating the “perfect” imagery, but this trend actively garners popularity. With popularity comes lust and covetousness. Body positivity has declared that all bodies are beautiful, but in so doing, it has added confusion to the learned helplessness phenomenon that we all experience because we begin to want to embody every internet personality: a conglomeration that is too much to even be encapsulated into a major motion picture. This movement has been empowering to the creators, yet it still leaves viewers discombobulated by their never-ending need to become someone different.
The answer to ending the reign of terror that social media has over our mental health is not to combat with more media creation but rather to boycott all social platforms that propagate unattainable standards. We must stand up to these media magnets and show that popularizing physical conformity does not have a place in the modern world. We must support our individual beauty, both physical and mental. This prioritization of our own being can only be done when we cut out all the negative influence calling for us to become someone else.