Instagram is, without a doubt, one of my guiltiest pleasures. I often find myself spending way too much time on social media, caught up in the world of likes, filters, and hashtags. On the daily, I scroll through hundreds of selfies, beach pictures, happy birthday posts, and the occasional dog pictures. I am all for posting whatever you want on your Instagram account and personally hate the so-called "rules" that govern how we use social media.

Just as the use of Instagram and other forms of social media keeps growing, so has our generation's awareness of social issues. Everywhere I go, I get reminded of the issues our world is facing. Whether it be plastic, global warming, poverty, animal rights, etc., it is clear that our generation wants to see a change. Even though this is amazing, recently I've noticed that so many people my age are confusing the true desire to spread social awareness with the desire to make their Instagram account look better.

A few months ago on Earth Day, my Instagram feed was flooded with pictures of nature. Almost all of these pictures were of girls at the beach, or hiking with their friends, or even taken from the window of an airplane. While the idea of posting about how much you love the Earth and want to save it is a harmless idea, it does nothing to actually save the planet.

I fully support posting a picture of yourself at the beach, and showing off your confidence, but don't post it on Earth Day, pretending it's the ocean behind you that you care about. If you really want to save the Earth and make a difference, posting a yearly Earth Day picture of yourself is not the way to do it. Wanting likes and clout on social media is a part of how today's generation values themselves and each other, but thinking that this is actually promoting any form of social justice is plain wrong.

More recently, videos of baby calves being taken away from their mothers (highlighting the truth behind the dairy industry) have been flooding my social media feed. These videos are heartbreaking, and I am sure that the people posting them truly think they are horrific as well. Posting this type of content is a great way to spread initial awareness, but don't let it be your only outlet for promoting justice for the things you care about.

Social media keeps our world extremely interconnected, and without it, awareness of many of the problems our world is facing wouldn't reach nearly as far as it does. I'm not saying that using Instagram to spread awareness is a bad idea, I'm just saying that it shouldn't be your only outlet for doing so.

If you hate how much plastic our world consumes, go around to local stores and restaurants and ask them to cut their use of plastic. If you hate how the dairy industry treats cows, become a vegan. Promoting awareness while not actually doing anything to change the issues at hand is useless. Our generation is so strong and powerful, and we all need to stop hiding behind our desire for Instagram likes and start actually changing the things we care about.