صفيه سالم محمد الدرعي
“I’m done. I’m done with social media. I’m done with being fake.”
This is essentially what Essena O’Neill, an Australian model, said in her last YouTube video claiming she quit social media, which her career is based on. In the video, she poured her heart out about the flaws of social media.
It hindered her image. It created an obsession with fake perfection. She let social media define her.
Much controversy was sparked on what she discussed, but the underlying message is that social media is a hurtful tool. However, your experience with social media is ultimately determined by the amount of time you put into it and who you choose to follow. It’s how you utilize social media that influences whether it’s a good tool.
Social media can be negative in different ways.
“Social media can be damaging because it’s so easy to judge and bully people,” said junior Jake Dow. “Mean people are on social media just as much as nice people.”
It’s so easy to hide behind a screen and judge people as they put themselves out for people to see. And someone’s many “followers” often aren’t supporters of an individual. They are just another person adding to someone’s follower count. It simplifies bullying, making it easy to fall into this behavior.
Yet, there are also beneficial aspects to social media.
“It’s a really good communication device and a great way to connect with others,” said Marley Mackin, a junior. “You can be informed about what’s going on and can bring people together.”
Social media provides another form of communication. It can bring communities together in hardship or victories. It’s a great way to spread the word about a cause or an event. And it’s another lens to see the world through.
However, the pros and cons aren’t determined strictly on social media alone—it’s determined by the way you utilize it. Spending too much time on social media can create an obsession. It starts to become negative when you put your full identity in it—when the amount of followers you have defines you and when you rely on comments to tell you you’re worth it.
Who you choose to follow also has a huge impact. If you are following people that lift each other up, social media can be a useful tool. But if you follow people promoting an obsession with likes and comments, social media can turn destructive.
So whether you agree with O’Neill, her experience can prove how radical of an impact social media can have. She wrapped her world around social media, and it broke her. What determines the kind of impact is how you navigate it. If you find yourself on it for hours, take a break. Unfollow accounts that trigger feelings of worthlessness. Use social media to lift others up and support their stories. Social media is ultimately up to you.