In this instantaneous world, it is understandable why social media has become a popular platform for communication. The world is brought to the people and the people to the world. However, it is through social media that people can lose touch with themselves. They forget to stop and take a minute to breathe because when everything around them is speeding by, it is instinctual to try and keep up. It is human nature: the elk runs; the human follows. This new age of social media is a powerful tool and like any power it can come as a burden. Adolescent mental health is a scale tipping towards insanity and social media is the weight.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 20% of male Americans and 40% of female Americans have reported depressive symptoms in 2015. Notice the gap between male and female mental health. There could be many explanations for this, maybe because of the way females mature or because of how their brain is wired. But the main cause might be social media.
There is no argument that girls are held to a standard. They have to be skinny but not too skinny, with a big butt but not the saggy kind. Cellulite is weird. Their boobs are too small or too big. Their stretch marks are a turn off while their stomachs may be a turn on. It is impossible to meet the standard. Something is always wrong.
Social media models portray the perfect body. There are no stretch marks, no cellulite; they have a shapely bottom and a va-va-voom top. How could any girl compete? But when the Instagram models that set beauty standards are asked about their secret to looking fabulous, they all answer similarly. It is filters and editing. It is Photoshop. Some Instagram models spend the day taking hundreds of pictures and then sifting through the hundreds of pictures to find the perfect one. There is angling and lighting, the average girl cannot achieve perfection because the average girl has better things to do than sift through hundreds of photos.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Essena O'Neill, an Instagram star from Australia with around half a million followers stated, "Stomach sucked in, strategic poses, pushed up boobs," O'Neill continued, "I just want younger girls to know this isn't candid life, or cool or inspirational. It's contrived perfection made to get attention."
Not all Instragram stars share the same view, and it could be an incorrect hypothesis to claim that social media is a direct cause of adolescent mental health problems, however it is hard to imagine something with greater national, even global influence.
Girls are not the only ones negatively impacted either. Guys are held to a standard too. Guys have to be lean, mean muscle machines in order to be considered attractive on Instagram or Snapchat. They have to post pictures with the boys and with the "hot" girls they encounter at parties. Their life on social media is expected to be fun and lively. A false reality has been created for the average teen and it is near impossible to escape it.
Yes social media is a great way to communicate. It is a way to keep up with friends that live hundreds of miles apart and a way to keep up with the latest in news and trends. But it is trying to keep up that may be slowing the young people down. Teens need time to breathe in order to survive, they need a break from their falsehoods so they can take a moment to look around and understand what's real. It is this fake world that is leading teens down a path of self destruction