Social media dominates the lives of younger generation

Teens equate self worth to number of likes

Social media has taken over the 21st century, creating extensive online communities connecting billions of people around the world. The creation of online profiles on large platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr has drawn in over 2 billion users worldwide, according to We Are Social Inc. Social media allows everyone to hide the bad moments of their lives, share the good moments with strangers and convince themselves that they are happy, while in reality, they long for real love and real happiness.

Instagram, which allows users to selectively post photos and edit them extensively, has proven to be the most popular application for warping the truth about how one really lives. Former Instagram sensation Essena O’Neill has outspokenly rejected her career as a model, leaving over 612,000 followers and deleting over 2,000 pictures. O’Neill explains in a YouTube video posted after “deleting” her career, “I had it all and I was miserable, because when you let yourself be defined by numbers, you let yourself be defined by something not pure, not real, and that is not love.”

The culture of popularity through social media will live on for a long time, not only attracting users but also fueling the businesses behind the outrageously popular accounts on these applications.

“If you don’t think it’s a business then you’re deluding yourself,” O’Neill said in her video. “Companies know the power of social media and they exploit it.”

I realized that there’s no point in explicitly showing so many details of my life to strangers that I’ve never even met.

— Emma Toma

Social media corrupts itself, accepting a puppet role for companies to advertise within their platform, harnessing the function of the app while ruining the love and purpose in lives.

Users strive for popularity within the app, changing their lives for online strangers rather than sharing moments with friends. Palo Alto High School junior Emma Toma, has almost 2,000 followers on Instagram, most of which are people she does not know or does not have a close relationship with, explains her discovery of the corruption of social media.

“I realized that there’s no point in explicitly showing so many details of my life to strangers that I’ve never even met,” Toma said.

According to a recent poll done by American Academy of Pediatrics, 22 percent of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day. As a result, teenagers get a higher exposure to the aforementioned detrimental content.

Instagram builds the user’s narcissistic behavior into a “living” person, giving the users somebody they should look like and act like if they were real. Somebody with the need for real happiness, real love and real purpose.

“Too many people give this app control over their self esteem,” Toma said. “Instagram isn’t reality. Putting effort into hiding your flaws from the virtual world isn’t healthy. Instead of spending time taking pictures and worrying about the perfect selfie angle, try to live in the moment.”

According to Essena O’Neill and others, social media applications, primarily Instagram, have eradicated the social purity of their sharing services. These apps have evolved into systems that evoke the ego in users, persuading them to show off their flawless lives when in reality their lives are jumbled with anxiety from social media.