“It’s Social Suicide”
Social media presence has grown over the past decade, allowing users to create and share content with followers and friends. The content then either receives negative or positive feedback from the audience it was shared with. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and dating sites like Tinder, have all been linked to a person’s self-esteem and self-worth based on number of likes and shares. Now in days cell phones enable us to open these apps at the touch of a button, which can alter a person’s outlook on life and mood instantly. These sites have taken over the internet, drawing people of many different backgrounds. Users consist of several races, genders, ages, and sexual orientation, growing the sites diverse crowd. Younger users are the most frequent visitors to most social media sites along with the type of person most effected. Some effects of negative social media interaction have even been proven to lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide among teenage users who do not feel verified enough through their profiles. Social media likes are leading to a recipe for disaster among the teenage community, leading to the question; would getting rid of them increase moral and decrease suicide?
Most teenagers are just trying to find their way in the world. Today it is much harder to be a teen due to social media. There are certain body standards being represented through social media, as well as goals of being an “influencer”, and getting enough “likes” on pictures. Teens are the most heavily influenced group of people on whether or not they gain approval or disapproval from their peers. During the teen and young adult years you are developing emotionally, physically and mentally which can lead to stress without a solid network of support. Without this network, or when other troubling situations occur, this group can fall through the cracks leading to a heavier consideration for suicide. Teen suicide has been on the rise for years. In 2019 the highest amount of suicides among teens was recorded. Teens and young adults have outstripped the title of the group most likely to take their own lives. This is clearly a large issue that needs to be addressed and solved. There are tons of warning signs that need to be caught and ways to prevent this outcome.
Since teens are most likely to seek approval from peers and these days anyone online, negative responses or disapproval can really crush one’s ego. Teens in general are looked at to suffer from a lower self-worth and self-esteem than that of an older, more matured age group. They are more easily influenced by other’s opinions of them, which makes them an extremely vulnerable group. Once negative self-image has crept in it takes over every thought and can affect everyday life. Over 70% of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks (Unilever). The teenage brain is also nowhere close to developed which could be one of the reasons they are so easily influences by other people’s opinions. The frontal lobe doesn’t develop until mid-twenties, which is in charge of processing and reasoning and making rational decisions. As for self esteem and social media platforms, that also goes hand in hand.
Social media sites are one of the main places people, especially teens, experience feedback in their everyday lives. These platforms thrive on fitting in and social acceptance of users. The sites are sometimes known to host rude comments and bullying. 90% of teens have been known to use social media sites, which if left with social disapproval could be detrimental to one’s self-esteem. Posting to specific sites such as Instagram and Facebook, can be due to many different motivations. Feeling loved or a place to belong, as well as getting to know people better and present oneself to many users at once are just some of the reason’s teens engage with these sites. When a selfie is posted or other aspect of a person’s life, if it is received well and shared this can lead to gratification in someone’s life. Strange the way your mood can now be determined by something completely online. Now if the opposite happens and negative words or not a lot of “likes” are given out, then that user will not feel as confident and not as validated. This can become a dangerous cycle by determining acceptance via social media and strangers. Why is it that likes can determine someone’s social status? Maybe it’s because likes and comments are seen as real-life affirmation teens seek.
Likes on social media are the main driver and reason people post to social media. Seeing which users like and comment on the media you have posted gives a feeling of instant gratification. Some people view every like as positive affirmation of their character. These likes become addictive and stimulate your brain, believe it or not. They begin to symbolize your reputation and where you socially stand. Users might start to constantly compare themselves to others with more likes them. Other things such as comments can also be misinterpreted. Not enough comments or likes as well as certain emojis being used can be misunderstood and lead to the beginning of a downfall not only on a user’s profile but internally in their head as well.
As a whole, social media platforms these days are leading down a rabbit hole of negative effects. Teenagers interaction with the sites and how easily they are influenced and seek approval is just the start of the volatile mix. Teens are also the neediest for approval over other groups leading to lower self-esteem and bigger reactions. They are the group misinterpreting content from other users and most effected all together. Suicide is also on the rise for this age group making the mix of these triggers high and putting teens at risk. Social media needs to be placed on a lower pedestal in everyday life, in order to save teens lives and mental health.