The Lifeblood of Social Media
Social media platforms fill peoples head with false realities. From the way society is expected to look, how they are expected to act, and what material goods people should yearn for, is a big influence from social media sites. It’s easy to fall into the trap and believe social media isn’t a lie. To believe that it is the be all end all. When you take someone with a mindset such as that, their self esteem can be greatly affected when they see someone who has more than them. When a person’s self-esteem plummets, this can lead to depression, anxiety, and the ultimate worst, suicide.
Sites like Instagram and Facebook rely on heavy traffic to keep afloat. Users of the site use likes and comments to keep the platform relevant and the site popular. Most users fall in the age range of 17-28 years old and are the generation to be most influenced by others. Social media sites now even have people they call “Influencers” who are basically like advertisers. These “Influencer” users wear or talk about a certain product and make it look good in order for the general public to want that same thing, thinking the influencer actually relies on the product in their daily life. These posts just like others receive likes, and with enough likes, it makes the page more popular and generates more users to that page. Many people have started to aspire to be influencers and believe getting “likes” is the main goal. If these likes didn’t exist, neither would the site. People wouldn’t bother to post if there was nothing to compete with making them the lifeblood of the platform. If likes diminished, would the site even exist?
Since likes and comments keep social platforms alive, it could very well be that self-esteem would be affected by such things. Some people are just more prone to need a lot more attention, positive feedback and affirmation from friends, than other users. If these type of people aren’t getting as many likes as they see fit this could tear them apart and not allow them to feel as much self-worth as they typically could or should. The other problem with this is even if the said user is getting a lot of likes, they will always be comparing themselves to others that receive more feedback then them. It’s a never-ending cycle of not feeling good enough. In these situations, it can be easy to see how people who rely on this kind of affirmation could become depressed and anxiety stricken.
According to Pantic (2014) anxiety, depression, psychotic disorders and low self-esteem are all the likely results of social networking sites, especially Facebook. These sites have high probability for cyber bullying with the ability to spread rumors and inappropriate pictures. Social media sites have also been seen to be used to combat loneliness but only lead to becoming more dissatisfied. After viewing other profiles jealousy arises when a user sees someone they see as more superior or better-off than them. As a result, they start to feel more inferior, less privileged and ungrateful. All of these can add up and result in someone trying to take their own life because of it.
The type of satisfaction that social media brings users is a type of addiction. The highs and the lows keep users coming back. Users get hooked on the feeling and need more until no amount is enough. This is no one’s fault other than the standards society has set. The social media sites themselves also have no incentive to decrease the amount of people coming to there sites, or to want to take away being able to view the interactions that take place. They are in the business to encourage users to become addicted to their site. They do not care about each individual, only their sites success.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth aged 10–24 years old globally. Many of these people have never even met with mental health services or showed any signs. Many questions were asked to get down to the bottom of this and figure out the cause. Research showed that there was an association between increased social media/internet use and suicide in this age group particularly. This seemed to be due to the fact that social media sites have the potential to both suggest and reinforce negative thoughts and behaviors. Social medias influence on suicide is a public health problem that was created and now needs addressing. Many organizations are now trying to make that a reality from the internet, how contradicting.
Many social media sites have teamed up with agencies to try and prevent suicide and increase the self-worth that society and social media platforms destroyed in the first place. The American Academy of Pediatrics warned that social media use can cause depression. Since many negative claims about social media have come to fruition, they are trying to now flip the script. Many social sites teamed with suicide watch hotlines and Facebook made a new feature which allows users to flag posts that seem suicidal. Mental health researchers are also increasingly analyzing tweets and Facebook messages to find out who is suicidal and try to take steps to better understand suicide prevention. Social media sites will not be going away anytime soon, so it only makes sense to take this as an opportunity to learn about it and improve.
How social sites effect the world around it is a multi-level structure. There are many different outcomes that are different for everyone. Not all people are negatively affected by social media or feel the need to receive likes to be validated. “Influencers” changed the social media game and made receiving likes popular and the goal. For people that aspire to be like this and need this constant affirmation, they can find themselves in a lonely place. Social media can become drug like and addicting because of this therefor resulting in lower self-worth. Lower self-worth then turns into anxiety, depression, and has even been seen in the worst of cases to result in cases of suicide. Social sites will never stop the amount of likes they get because that would be counterintuitive to their mission, so instead they team with suicide prevention to keep the sites popular. These issues will lead to further problems and the cycle will continue on. Social media and its “likes” cease to see an end, so for now the vicious effects will continue on.