Social media has been around for more than 20 years. Those who are a part of Generation Z (people born in the mid 1990s to now) have never known a life without it. From the founding of Facebook in 2004 to the founding of WhatsApp in 2014, countless new social networks have been added to the already overflowing list.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Facebook users and 63 percent of Snapchat users check the platforms several times a day. Seemingly, people spend every second of free time they have scrolling through their neverending Instagram feeds or retweeting tweets from people they have never even met. Why is this?
Some social media users want to stay in touch with friends while others simply want to feel accepted by their “followers.” However, there is a huge underlying reason of why people have the constant desire to check up on their social network sites.
Marlon Jovi S. Valencia from Portland State University wrote in “How Online Social Media Persona Affects Personal Identity and Self” that the internet has made a way for one’s self identity to be revealed.
“With the surge of social media and networking sites over the years, a snapshot of someone’s identity is now almost always available at the fingertips. On a long enough timeline, we can see their evolution of the continuity of body and the continuity of consciousness,” wrote Valencia.
Previously, things like extracurricular activities and religion were what determined one’s self-identity. Now, the tables have turned. Within each media platform, there are people or subjects to follow. Megan Adams and Anna Ray are both sophomores at Mt. Juliet High School who have experienced social media’s downsides as well as advantages.
“Social media makes me feel bad about myself sometimes just because I see people, and they look perfect, and I wish I was perfect … [Also], I wish that people wouldn’t use it as a platform for hate towards other people because it’s unnecessary,” said Adams.
Both girls mentioned how the media can personally affect them. Ray said that she has sometimes seen people talk bad about her on Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
“[I hate when] a person posts something on social media that I know is about me and it’s towards a negative context,” Ray said.
It is common knowledge that what others say about you can affect your confidence as well as your self-image. That is why social media, a place where everyone feels obligated to express their opinions, is so influential on people’s identities. Though it has its perks, it is best for people to steer clear of getting hooked to its harmful atmosphere.