My experience in terms of social media as an 18-year-old woman are relatively limited. I have a Facebook that I check, maybe on my birthday, but really nothing else outside of that. Recently, I have tried to tidy up my Facebook in order to use it for networking purposes, but that is about all the social media I technically have. I don’t really claim to have or use any.
Now, this is not special. I’m not trying to assert that those who abstain from social media are superior to those who choose to participate in the culture. I just want to present the realization I have had about the reality of online culture today and how we interact with the interface.
I did not always choose to stay away from social media. Growing up in millennial society quickly instilled in me the idea that I needed to have a presence on these platforms. For me, however, I quickly discovered that I had no interest in ultimately building and maintaining an image of myself for others to perceive. I assume it really is a preference thing, but I always found it weird assuming a large following of people who I know couldn’t care less about me.
I know others have different experiences and in a more positive light, I have had good experiences where social media proved to be a wonderful tool. Through it we can keep in touch with friends who live across the world. It can be used for networking reasons within whatever field you are studying. And it can be used for more humorous things, like the creation of memes and jokes that embody their own hilarity online.
Social media today and the atmosphere that is exhibited online really is its own distinct culture. Social media and online culture enables people to consume and be a part of people’s lives in a much more obsessive manner than ever before. It creates this compulsive desire to have this presence amongst friends and, to a larger extent, strangers.
I think what I’m really trying to get at is how this all-access pass into other people’s lives can affect us. When social media becomes this extension of oneself that must be upheld, people put too much value in presenting only the best, yet not always authentic, versions of themselves. Having at your fingertips a means to constantly evaluate and compare yourself to those around you is not healthy. With this said, social media is something that should be consumed responsibly. As individuals, we are all responsible for how we consume media.
I challenge those who assimilate without question into social media to ask themselves if their actions are based on their sole intent or the opinions of those around them. It is an act of self love and self preservation, and it is unburdening to unshackle yourself from the addicting consequences of social media.