Social Media has integrated itself into the every day lives of the current generation. Although these platforms have the best intentions, not everyone benefits from them in the same way. In this article, one of our peer educators, Priyanka, reflects on some of the negative aspects of excessive social media usage.
The Social Expectations of Social Media
By Priyanka Kulkarni
Social media has impacted the mental health of many individuals. The number of platforms that show what people are doing on a Saturday night, where people are by their exact location, the number of followers and likes one can get on their posts and pages, are just a few examples of the anxiety social media can create. Like everything, there are pros and cons to social media. Places like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are great places to advertise, get people involved in events, raise political awareness, and communicate across the world. However, social media can also create a lot of social expectations. We create expectations for ourselves about what we should be doing on a day-to-day basis and we begin to compare ourselves to different people and develop this idea of becoming the perfect person.
Perfection is impossible. We are perfect if we make mistakes, work through them, and move forward from them. Society has created this notion that we have to be at our best all the time, that we cannot lag in the workforce, in our social lives, personal lives, family lives, and any other facet to life there is. We are expected to be on top of it, if not accomplished, we are threatened with labels from other people. There is a fear instilled in us that if we do not succeed financially and career wise, then we are not going to be happy. Happiness and success have individual meanings to each person that cannot be generalized. Whether we know that or not, a lot of ideals of perfection and striving for perfection have been socialized into our minds in which our actions and thoughts reflect that socialization. That in which, creates a lot of anxiety. Merely existing is impossible for the human mind, we are constantly thinking about what we have to do, problems we have, anxieties that might come up in the future, and past anxieties. Especially as college students, our brains are cycling over and over through various thoughts. Never have we been taught to just exist in the moment. We are told to live in the moment, but how do you do that? How do you get yourself to be stress free and clear your mind for a moment or two.
Social media and social platforms get us to think that everyone is super human, able to conquer all, but it is important to realize that we are all human, that we have problems with existing and repurposing ourselves within the social world. It is important to take a step back and realize that we need to just breathe or exist for sake of existing, and not for anything else, for a bit. It will be very difficult, but once you get in the practice, eventually it will become natural to your body like anything else that takes repetition and consistency. It is also very important to indulge in the activities and things you love. Self care is taking time for yourself, shutting off social media and really living for yourself for a moment. We are constantly doing things for other sources, other people, other systems, we are not taught to live for ourselves in fear of selfishness. But mindfulness is necessary to keep moving forward.