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 different backgrounds. Users consist of several races, genders, ages, and sexual orientation, growing the sites diversity. Younger users are the most frequent visitors to social media sites along with the most effected by the content that is produced. Social media itself isn’t always a positive environment. There are many negatives to the sites that can include things such as bullying, inadequacy of user appearance and “FOMO.” Exposure to these negatives over and over again have been shown to lead toward depression, anxiety and even suicide among teenage users. These users try to counteract the negatives with feelings of verification through their profiles in the form of likes and comments. When they don’t end up getting the required attention in the form of likes to counteract the original issues, this ends up leading back to the previous negative effects. 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?
Teenagers are not only trying to find their place in the world, but also who they want to identify as. Social media is only making this even harder. There are certain body standards represented through social media, as well as the goal of becoming an “influencer”, and getting enough likes on posted content. Gaining approval from peers online is what everyone wants, but heavily weighs on teens due to their development. During the teen and young adult years, a person is developing emotionally, physically and mentally which can lead to stress without a solid network of support. Without this network, or when troubling situations occur, someone without such provision can fall through the cracks leading to a hefty consideration of 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 stripped the title of group most likely to take their own lives. Teen suicide is clearly a large issue that needs to be addressed and solved. There are tons of warning signs that need to be caught and addressed as a way to prevent such a sad 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 teens 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. 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 judgment on posted content. Users thrive on fitting in and social acceptance in the public eye. Social media sites will always be known to host rude comments and contain bullying. Its inevitable even with anti-cyberbullying programs in place. 90% of teens have been known to use social media sites. If their profile is left with social disapproval, this could be detrimental to one’s self-esteem. Cyberbullying is particularly dangerous because it takes away the human interaction aspect. Those who bully cant see what its doing to the person on the other side of the screen. Empathy among this community is being lost. Students who do experience a form of cyberbullying are nearly 2 times more likely to attempt suicide.
When teens post to sites such as Instagram and Facebook, they fulfill certain motives. Feeling a place to belong, affirmation of one’s appearance, and getting to know people better by presenting oneself to many users in a short amount of time is just some of the reason’s teens have engaged with these platforms and made them so popular. Content or a selfie is posted to a user’s profile which later appears on a feed that can receive likes and comments. If the content is received well and shared it can lead to gratification in the user’s circle. Strange the way mood can be determined by something completely online. If the opposite happens and negative words or not a lot of “likes” are given out, then a user may not feel as confident and invalidated. This becomes a dangerous cycle when acceptance is determined through 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 driver and reason people post content. Seeing which users like and comment on the media posted gives a feeling of instant gratification. Some people view every like as positive affirmation. The likes become addictive and stimulate the brain, believe it or not. Likes and comments begin to symbolize reputation and social status. Users can easily compare themselves to others with more likes them. Comments online 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.
Social media platforms 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 the neediest group that seeks constant approval leading to lower self-esteem and bigger reactions. They misinterpret content from other users and therefor become the 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.