Social Media – Is It Defining Us?

Look at today’s kids compared to the kids of the 70s and 80s. What’s the biggest difference? Social media. Technology. Almost everyone from age 10 and older at least have cell phones. I was one of those, but my situation was different in that I received a TracFone (more for tracking purposes) instead of the expected smart phone of today’s children.

In a world where everyone is glued to their phones, this epidemic looks to begin to start early. It’s not long after they have their very own smart phone that the child begins to beg for a social media account because they simply “cannot live without it.” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “pediatricians often hear from parents who are concerned about their children’s engagement with social media.”

Social media often brings about a negative vibe, but it’s not always a bad thing. I know I would have little-to-no contact with my best friend living in Aberdeen, South Dakota, if it weren’t for sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

But, I’m 20-years-old. I didn’t grow up with my face glued to a screen. I grew up playing outside in the sandbox. In my opinion, its normal for people my age to use social media.

But again, I’m 20-years-old and probably biased to my generation. When those of an earlier generation think about us “millennials,” they are inclined to roll their eyes and think we’re all frying our brains at the mercy of Facebook and Twitter.

This is anything but true.

My generation is learning how to use social media professionally. We’re finding the tips and tricks of Facebook pages, WordPress blogs, and tweeting in hopes of teaching both the earlier and later generations… if they’ll listen to us.

This is the positive side of social media – connection, engagement and professional use.

But, with any good thing also comes a list of the bad.

Everyone is addicted to the likes and favorites they receive on a post. And, if they don’t receive that expected level of interaction, it can have negative effects.

According to Social News Daily, “social media can contribute to a negative self-perception.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a heavy Facebook user or if Instagram is your “drug,” we all want our followers to believe we are happy, successful and living a fulfilling life. This leads to comparison and self-doubt.

Social News Daily describes this as “smiling depression… used to describe people who are depressed but do not appear so.” We all know everyone has their flaws and bad days, but social media masks that reality. Why are we comparing ourselves to each other if we know that, in the end, we’re all just one like away from deleting our accounts?

This “smiling depression” can be dangerous for younger children, particularly girls. Growing up, I remember comparing myself to my aunt, my dad’s sister. We’re 13 years apart in age and I thought she had hung the moon (and still do sometimes).

That is where my comparison happened. I wanted to be just like her, just as many girls my age would look up to their older sister.

But this tends to look a bit different in the minds of today’s little girls.

Instead of looking at real people, they find the trendiest Instagram face and desire to have her body, her job and her beyond perfect boyfriend.

How sad.

This is not just a call for the young girls of today’s generation to look elsewhere, but a call for the ladies my age to step it up. If we provide a positive example for those girls to look to, they won’t need to find a fake, too tan Instagram model to look up to.

They’ll have us. Real people who make mistakes and fall down sometimes, but always will get back up and dust ourselves off, ready for whatever life throws next.

So, here’s my conclusion to the question, “Is Social Media on the Whole a Negative or a Positive Social Force?”

Yes, yes to both!

There’s no one answer, and there never will be. It’s going to be a problem future generations will continue to deal with.

I have no doubts we will become more tech-savvy in the years to come, but for now, all we can do is keep doing what we’re doing – improving and learning more each day.

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