Essay #2: Social Media: Ego Booster and Mood Depressor
Wake up. Put on outfit. Take picture of outfit and post it on Facebook. Caption it “outfit of the day, press the like button ;).” Go get breakfast. Go on Facebook. Hope you have notifications. New comment on photo. “You look so gorgeous girl!” Feel flattered. Eat breakfast. Go to school. Have lunch. Check Facebook before class. Ten likes on your photo. Check to see if they are from boys. They are. Feel flattered. Gain confidence. Feel happy. Go to class. Go home. Check Facebook. Eight more likes. One more comment. This one is from a boy. “Wow you are beautiful.” Message him. Develop feelings for him. Give him your number. Go do homework. Stop homework after five minutes to check Facebook. No notifications. Get depressed. Wonder why no one else likes your photo. Finish homework and go eat dinner. Wait a longer amount of time to go on Facebook. Maybe more people would have seen the picture and you will have a ton of notifications. Go on Facebook after dinner. One like. One comment. Both from your mom. “Honey I like that outfit, but when did you go shopping. I told you not to spend more money.” Great. Thanks mom. Get annoyed. Go watch TV. Get ready for bed. Turn off the lights. Get in bed. Tell boy you were texting, “I’m going to bed, text you tomorrow, goodnight!<33” Plan on not texting him tomorrow. He is boring. Check Facebook. No notifications. What is wrong with the picture? Get self-conscious. Look at the picture. Stare at picture for a long time. Analyze picture. Realize your nose it what looks weird. Realize you don’t like it. Realize your hair is sticking up. Remember that your mom commented on it. Delete picture. Decide to post another one in the morning. Log off of Facebook. Go to sleep. Eight hours later. Wake up. Put on outfit. Take picture of outfit and put it on Facebook.
Facebook is a never ending cycle. Many a person, including myself, will squander precious time on social networking sites just so they can receive some sort of self-satisfaction. That sound your phone makes when you get a notification from Instagram is like a dog when his owner shakes the treat bag. The sound heard when someone tweets you might as well be the sound of celestial music as heaven’s gates open up. Interaction through Facebook or any other social media makes us feel special. Humans love to talk about themselves and make themselves known, which can become concerning. Social media is an issue in today’s society because online activity is translating into our offline lives; it is an addiction that affects emotional and mental health.
“Humans may get a neurochemical reward from sharing information, and a significantly bigger reward from disclosing their own thoughts and feelings than from reporting someone else’s.” Frank Rose says this in his article, “The Selfish Meme: Twitter, dopamine, and the evolutionary advantages of talking about oneself.” Rose explains how MRI scans were conducted to see what stimulated the brain. Talking about one’s own opinions seemed to engage the test subject more than talking about someone else. To any social media user, this is completely obvious. Why would you want to talk about other people’s accomplishments when you could talk about your own? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Vine, and all the other types of social media are used to advertise oneself to a specific audience. Fifteen-year-old Stacy posts a status saying, “Going to the gym because I’m getting fat,” because she wants people to say, “Stacy you aren’t fat, you look great!” Eighteen-year-old Louis tweets, “So bored, I wish I had someone to hang out with #bored #lonely #hitmeup #please #illpayyou,” because he wants people to respond to him. Sixteen-year-old Gina posts a picture of herself on Instagram with the caption, “lookin’ mad gross today,” just so people can comment and say she looks beautiful. Approval of others is very important for one’s own ego.
Not everyone has this self-absorbed behavior online but for those who do, the comments and likes create a high that makes social networking addicting. “Researchers have previously shown that certain online activities—such as checking your e-mail or Twitter stream—stimulate the brain’s reward system. Like playing a slot machine, engaging in these activities sends the animal brain into a frenzy as it anticipates a possible reward: often nothing, but sometimes a small prize, and occasionally an enormous jackpot….. we get high from being on the receiving end of social media.” Rewards, as Rose states in his article, are what drive people to continue their destructive online behavior. Social sites act as a stimulant like the high from a drug.
Many users can admit to getting this “high” on occasions. However, not receiving any approval creates another feeling on the other end of the spectrum: depression. The research article “Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults,” states that, “Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.” Depression is a phenomena, and social media can start a depression domino effect. Users may feel worse and worse about themselves when they aren’t receiving any sort of reaction on Facebook or from any social network.
Depression occurs from lack of attention, but it also can be derived from what is on the network. Relationship statuses are changed, which can lead to broken hearts and crushed dreams. A friend posts a picture of their weekend, and then you are left to wonder why you weren’t included in that excursion. A picture of Jesus is shared and is captioned “Like this if you love Jesus. If you don’t you are going to hell.” Social sites are sometimes scary and depressing places and can contribute to one’s already darkened spirit.
Many of the dejected users of Facebook and other social media have turned to the creation of alternate egos. For the despairing, they find themselves changing their own personality, likes, and dislikes just so they can be noticed. Desperate times call for desperate measures. A whole new person is created, and you may not be happy with that person, but everyone else is. Those users are having an identity crisis. A good example of this is Catfish.
Catfish, the television show on MTV, is a perfect example of social media and how it is linked to self-satisfaction or depression. Urban Dictionary describes the term “catfish” as “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” On Catfish, many of the culprits are dissatisfied with their looks, so they use fake images to draw in their “prey.” Insecurity and loneliness drive this attention-seeking method, even though some of the offenders have a hard time admitting it.
At the end of the day, the catfish realize that the attention is nice, but it typically leads to depression. They are still the same person they were when they logged on to Facebook, and they can’t change that. Eventually, they will need to tell the truth. It is unavoidable. The goal of catfishing is to find someone who takes the loneliness away, but in reality, they just seem to isolate themselves even more. The self- satisfaction of catfishing someone is temporary, and the guilt and misery are eminent and long lasting. Yet some catfish still continue with their fabricated lives because once started, they are not sure how to stop.
Another negative effect caused by social media includes bullying. Many users have been bullied over sexual orientation, race, religion, social status, looks or even relationships. According to bullyingstatistics.org, “Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.” Another statistic touts, “One million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook during the past year.” (Consumer Reports, 2011) Posting hurtful comments and spreading rumors account for much of the cyberbullying. The detrimental effects caused by cyberbullying include depression, anxiety and even suicide. DoSomething.org says that, “Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.” The good connotation associated with social media is overshadowing the problems lying within it.
Social media is an issue in today’s society because online activity is translating into our offline lives. Most avid social media users can agree that their day starts and ends with checking the Internet. Like the opening paragraph describes, the life of a social networker is chaotic and unproductive. It leads anywhere from euphoria to depression, personality changes, bullying, and life-altering decisions. Life is no longer lived for oneself, but rather for the whole world to see and judge.
**The purpose of my essay is to relay the message that social media is an issue in today’s society because online activity is translating into our offline lives; it is an addiction that affects emotional and mental health. My goals are to identify and clarify the problems and also to educate those who were unaware that social media was a problem in the first place. I believe the younger generation would benefit from reading this article for several reasons. First, to make them aware that social media use is a problem and second, to let them know that, if any of the points apply to them, they are not alone. The older generations that read it would most likely be shocked that this is a big problem in today’s society, so I would be concerned with their reactions. My final goal for this essay would be that the readers would take away one thing; social media is not so important that you have to base your life around it. Time is precious and it should be spent on more important people and things.