Social Media, & Why It Sucks

Social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat are the main mode of communication among college students. Most (myself included) are so ingrained in the culture of social media that we couldn’t imagine life without it; in some industries, if you aren’t actively on social media, you are at a tangible disadvantage compared to your peers. It’s inescapable, and understandably so; social media is a powerful tool, a great way to connect with your friends, share your life, and it can even be a solid tool for venting. I know that, for me, randomly tweeting complaints into the void is a good way to get things out of my system. 

I’m not gonna patronize any potential readers here by going, “oh but did you KNOW that social media is actually bad?” At this point, I feel the fact that social media can severely damage your mental health in a number of ways is well known. However, people tend to only focus on certain dangers of social media, like addiction, oversharing, or cyberbullying. While others remain lesser-known. For instance, warnings about cyberbullying are plentiful, but people also don’t talk as much about “echo chambers” that can occur in communities over social media. By “echo chambers,” I am referring to the fact that you are more likely to surround yourself with people who have similar beliefs to you, which means that your beliefs are also more likely to go by unchallenged. This reinforces your beliefs and can entrench you within them, making you more stubborn and unwilling to listen to anyone who might disagree. It’s this concept that drives the growth of developing anti-intellectual movements on the net, such as COVID-19 deniers or anti-vaxx, but it can also subconsciously affect anybody on social media. When you’re on social media, you need to make sure that you aren’t reinforcing your own biases by engaging with sources outside of your “bubble.” I think social media has failed to encourage this kind of behavior, which results in a lot of tribalism where people attack anyone who disagrees with them; this makes social media a toxic environment for everyone involved. While everyone inevitably falls into this behavior, it’s important to be aware of it so you can recognize it and avoid it.

Social media, much like anything else, can also burn you out if used in excess. As social media continues to take more of our attention it is easy to slip into an obsession, which is terrible for your mental health for so many reasons. It can lead to feelings of isolation and anxiety; when I spend too much time on social media, I feel a sense of hopelessness. Especially on Twitter– many people tend to focus on the negatives of life, with doom and gloom news spreading more frequently than anything else. And while that is understandable, given the state of, well, everything, that doesn’t make it any less exhausting. It’s important to be aware of social media burnout so you can recognize it; oftentimes I find myself so immersed in social media that I don’t realize the negative impact it’s having on me until I step away from the screen and detox. That’s really the best response to it; many apps have the option to temporarily deactivate your account in order to motivate you to take a break and ground yourself in reality. 

One of the most powerful features of the internet age, social media is inescapable. We all indulge in it because of how enjoyable it is, it’s important to maintain a level of self-awareness and metacognition when you consider your time on social media. Try to be aware of the influence social media can have on the way you think, your biases, and how it harms your productivity & well-being, so you engage in social media in a healthy way.

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By Sebastian Ortega

Sebastian is a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he majors in Fashion Business Management. He’s worked behind the scenes of New York Fashion Week with the company Nolcha Shows, and in the office of Elrene Home Fashions. Someday, he hopes to be able to make his own claim in the fashion industry by starting his own business.

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