In my 18 months as the opinions editor for The Talon, I have written over five articles that deal with social media. For my last article as the opinions editor, I have once again chosen the topic of social media and its dangers, but instead of the dangers that it brings to our social lives, I have decided to focus on what it is doing to our society in terms of value and self-worth.
There is no doubt that social media is a tool that can be used for good, but social media is also a tool that has negative attributes.
The danger that comes with social media outlets’ strong presence is the idea of easily finding value in yourself based on the number of retweets or likes that you receive on your social media posts. This is a widespread idea that reaches all across the globe, and according to some psychiatrists, can be more harmful to our futures than what we would imagine.
According to the New York Times, Thai government psychiatrist, Dr. Panpimol Wipulakorn warned last February that if “young people don’t get enough likes on their selfie as expected, they decide to post another, but still do not receive a good response. This could affect the development of the country in the future as a number of new-generation leaders will fall short.”
The most popular example of this from Twitter is the idea that the number of retweets and likes you receive on a clever or funny tweet mirrors your popularity or your acceptance in society. Some even say that in our generation, flirting starts with liking or retweeting a handful of a specific person’s tweets, or being sure to like all of their Instagram posts.
Personally, I have found myself caught up in the belief that I am more popular or more accepted by the student body at Oklahoma Christian based on the number of likes that I receive on my Instagram posts. My sophomore year of college, I was obsessed with posting funny tweets, hoping that the number of people who would favorite or retweet it would surpass my last post.
In a world where everything runs digitally and it seems like time turns faster and faster every day, social media is a nice outlet for us to reach out to our family and friends for whatever reasons. While social media platforms in themselves are good for our society, the danger in them comes when we crave the attention and praise that others can give us through these digital outlets.
My challenge to you is to put down your phone and dismiss the idea that your value is found through your tweets or your Instagram posts. Toss out the lie that the number of followers you have directly represents your popularity and worth in society. Find your value, your worth and your importance through your close friends and family members. Social media can be used for good, but that all depends on how you, the user, decides to use it.