I am an avid VSCO girl. I love the low-key nature of being able to unload my camera roll favorites without a care of who might see. I appreciate the opportunity to connect with others and share bits of my life through social media apps like Instagram. What I have come to find through my high school and university years, is that as much as social media can be a fun and creative space, it can also be a place of comparison and negativity.
Often, I find myself falling into the trap of comparison. The voice in my head is saying “I’m too fat … no I’m too skinny. My nose isn’t cute and small. Why don’t I look like her? I am ugly.” These are things that I would not normally think or say to myself, but they pop into my head while scrolling through TikTok.
Many young men and women struggle with body dysmorphia. Social media puts off a false body ideal which can tamper with our self-confidence.
Claude Mellins, a professor at the Columbia University Medical Center, shared that “Although there are important benefits, social media can also provide platforms for bullying and exclusion, unrealistic expectations about body image and sources of popularity, normalization of risk-taking behaviors and can be detrimental to mental health.”
Social media can have an immense impact on a teen’s mental health during some of the most crucial years of development. Economics uses the concept of opportunity cost. Our time is valuable. Our time is limited. What is the cost of our time spent on social media?
Social media is great for many reasons, like long-distance communication with friends or family, seeking knowledge and inspiration from other creators and the most common — entertainment. Many acknowledge how social media has benefited their life, but anyone can be susceptible to its negative effects. I am a believer that there must be moderation in all things.
Sleep is an example of this. Sleep is good. In fact, it is necessary for the wellbeing of mankind, but when sleep is excessive, it can actually be damaging. If we use the same reasoning with social media, then it is safe to say that Instagram, Twitter, VSCO, etc. should be used in moderation.
Perhaps a remedy to mindless scrolling on social media could be experimenting with new hobbies like reading a challenging book or going on a walk in nature. The world is our oyster.
This last year, I learned and practiced how to crochet. I created a new formula for my time. Time equals new skill. The feeling I had about myself was so rewarding. Now, it has been over six months since I touched my yarn and hook. In my spare time outside of class and work, I have clocked in many hours on social media. Because it is so easy to fall back into effortless habits, we must work deliberately to combat old habits with healthier replacements.
Social media can be a place for good, but if we ever feel it taking a toll on our well-being, we should have alternatives. It is important that we fill our time with things that are spiritually, mentally and physically uplifting. There should be a limit on our downtime, as that is where we tend to slack off. May we be more diligent in finding a healthy balance in our day-to-day use of social media.
Pleasant Grove, UT