Written by: Driune Santana & Nailah Spencer
Social media has created a world of dreams instead of reality. Platforms such as Instagram and Twitter have normalized various beliefs in life, love, career, and most of all appearances. We should not only begin with portraying real beauty and real love, but also acknowledging what is real that is most beautiful, the good or bad. This parallel universe controls our minds to quickly jump to this fictional concept of how social media influences our feeling of realism. A place for everyone to escape reality and create their own ideal world on social media were thousands, even millions, of people from around the world. For years people have scrolled down their timelines on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, which have them believing what they are witnessing is real. Young teens are looking up to social media influencers or celebrities who they not only aspire to be, but to look like them as well. With the likes of Cardi B and the Clermont Twins, who have periodically altered their bodies and faces, they set an unreachable standard to achieve discouraging with their self-image tarnished.
Life on social media is not all glitz and glamour. We have seen many users highlight their lavishing lifestyles and end up not really having it all together. From owning big houses to flaunting thousands of dollars to wearing designer brands people have created this scenario to make others think they are not doing enough in their own lives. Repeatedly we have watched people on Twitter or Instagram caption off their tweets or pictures, saying things like “you should be out of your parent’s home at 18” or “if you’re not taking trips out of the country are you really living?” For those who feed off the people they follow on social media, it can mess with their mental health. Instagram made headlines for announcing they would be suppressing likes in efforts to curb the comparisons and hurt feelings associated with attaching popularity to sharing content. However, we wondered if this was a way to combat mental health issues or to just apply a band-aid to a wound. Even if the removal of likes were gone, there would still be chances for comparisons and feedback through post comments. The constant need for validation from the internet serves as a replacement for meaningful connections they would make in real life, especially in relationships.
Romanticizing other relationships is nothing new under the sun. Unlike scripted movies, social media shows real couples living real lives. While looking at these so-called “perfect” couples online, people tend to allow it to interfere with their own romantic relationships. Social media has contributed to unhealthy and unrealistic expectations for what relationship are presumed to be like, and partners will spend more time categorizing an “image” of who they are as opposed to paying close attention on the relationship itself. In the mist of toxicity when it comes to all aspects of abuse, people have normalized physical and verbal abuse as apart of difficulties in relationships. However, we cannot exclude the topics of cheating and how it has played a huge role in relationships that are portrayed through social media. There have been times where we have thought our partners had something going on with someone on social media by how many times your partner has interacted with them. Whether is a like or comment, trust and believe we have seen it all and plenty of relationships have ended because of it. Excessive usage of social media and its misconception of life, love and now careers which has deeply affected our job choices.
Social networking sites has given a skewed feeling into other’s “realities”. Users are able to portray themselves however they want in just a few clicks. From the idealism of being wealthy to fabricating how they receive their income, those who truly live “luxurious lives”, others are opportunists and exaggerate to keep up a certain image.
Social users are accustomed to the world of “instant gratification” some people are willing to put themselves in dangerous or compromising situations to keep up with appearances. For example, a recent TikTok trend is to become a sugar baby, stripper or bottle girl to make “fast money”. While a career in nightlife is a way to make a living, these jobs can also be dangerous. Especially if people are doing it with little to no experience and are blindly following what they’re seeing online. This trend has also sparked conversations amongst experienced nightlife workers, who are warning young men and women of some of the dangers of working those kinds of jobs.
Another trend seen on the internet to make money are different pyramid schemes. They’re marketing and investment frauds in which an individual is offered a distributorship or franchise to market a particular product, disguised as “job opportunities”. This too is a response to the growing want to find ways to make money quickly and with little to no effort, all of which allows individuals to buy material things or go on grand vacations to present themselves a certain way on social media.
While the internet and social sites can be a great way to stay in touch with people in your community and provide networking opportunities, it can also be harmful to individuals mental health. According to Mclean Hospital, Social media has a reinforcing nature and activates the brain’s reward center by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” linked to pleasurable activities. The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety and depression. This is why it’s important to create limitations on visiting social sites and monitor your behavior changes. According to a study at University of Pennsylvania in 2018, self-monitoring can change one’s perception of social media.
This reasonable expectation standard is developed by the users themselves who will allow their rights to be infringed upon for the approval to access sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As we continue to break down several misconspections of social media, let’s remember the postive aspect of it. Social media is great for artist, who are looking to build a fanbase across the world. You can meet some amazing people right from your phone as well as build relationships or friendships with those you would meet someday. If you’re a journalist like we are, then social media is a wonderful way to broadcast from red carpets or movie premieres with your favorite celebs. We can’t forget to shout Black Twitter as our daily newspaper on all things entertainment.
How I look at or think about the misconceptions of social media? Hmm….what a drag!