Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Social media has potential to be useful

By Jolie Shave

I thought I had an idea of what a rough breakup looked like when I was in middle school. My first boyfriend, whom I dated for a month in sixth grade, cheated on me. Let me reiterate — I got cheated on. In sixth grade. 

But breakups today are even worse than my 12-year-old heart getting stomped on because many modern breakups involve only one person.

Time and time again, Instagram stories will read “I’m taking a break from social media for a while because it’s toxic.” But is it really?

We’ve found ourselves in an era in which people can express themselves more freely than ever before. It’s amazing how many communities of people have joined together for the simple, yet profound purpose of supporting each other. Many of these communities can be found through social media, but so many people argue that it has a negative impact on mental health.

There are so-called “influencers” with millions of likes who will rant day in and day out about their skincare routine because they claim that “so many people ask to know what it is.” No. Whatever miracle product they’re telling you they use, they don’t. And some argue that these influencers set unrealistic expectations for their followers. But is anyone genuinely expecting you to have perfect skin, perfect hair and a supermodel body just because you follow someone who does? 

People who say that social media is toxic should take a step back and reassess if the expectations are created by other people or themselves.

Maintaining a positive image of yourself is essential before you can click open an app that gives you a window into the life of supermodels and celebrities. You shouldn’t look at them and feel saddened by the fact that you aren’t them. Their lives aren’t even as glamorous as they seem. And that’s really the bigger picture — no one’s lives are as glamorous as they seem on social media.

Nay-sayers will claim that Instagram is toxic because people only post things that allow the world to maintain a positive perception of them. Maybe some do, but Instagram has the potential to be a haven of love and support if we look in the right places.

Some apps have eliminated the ‘like’ option to help users’ mental health (Envato Elements).

I’ve seen so many coming-out stories on Instagram, one of which was by a girl whose parents borderline disowned her for being gay. Yet, her coming-out story on Instagram allowed her followers to post encouraging, empowering comments. Members of the LGBTQ community — some of them complete strangers — came to her side as well, which allowed people to be there for her at a time when she may have otherwise felt ostracized. 

Before someone decides that they need to break up with social media, I’d encourage them to consider where the unrealistic expectations truly stem from. I’d remind them that no one has a perfect life.

The debate on social media boils down to the fact that it has the power to do more good than harm. It can grant us access to supportive communities of people while also allowing us to keep in touch with old and new friends. 

Don’t give Instagram the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech just yet. Make amends.


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