Social Media can be mentally damaging, but things are looking up

I joined every social media platform I could when I was ten years old. I got an email account, I got a Facebook account, I got a twitter account, and when Instagram got popular, I got one of those too. An important part of this is that I saw people around me getting these accounts and having fun on them. Playing games, talking to people, posting pictures, and it looked like something I could enjoy. It wasn’t until I hit puberty and high school that things started to take a turn. I’m not sure if it was because the societal structure around social media was changing or if it was because my mental stability was changing, or maybe even a dangerous mixture of both, but suddenly this thing I was in love with was very toxic for me. I would see my friends hanging out together and not inviting me, people I knew seeming to have infinitely better lives on vacation in Mexico or London or any miscellaneous place I wanted to be instead of Iowa City. Once I hit my junior year I would have to take multiple social media breaks just to be able to make it through the day without having a panic attack. This new research of people coming out and saying the mental impacts of Instagram and Twitter, even going so far as Instagram not allowing children under the age of thirteen to be able to see posts on Instagram that might trigger an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, makes me hopeful for the future, but it also makes me jealous that I didn’t have that option. Celebrities like Zendaya saying they try to stay off social media as much as possible makes me happy for younger generations. Having role models say this thing is affecting them mentally gives young people the chance to recognize that in themselves and be able to look more critically at social media and the messages they’re sent through social media. It at least has worked for me to see celebrities doing that (as well as years of therapy) and being able to recognize that it is okay for me to take breaks from social media and to do what’s best for me. The severe sense of FOMO and inadequacy still appears, but now I am mature enough and know enough to be able to weed through those thoughts, accept them, and acknowledge that my worth is not measured on social media Not having twitter or Instagram on my phone has cleared things up for me mentally, to be able to do what I need to do. Sure, it only took eight years, but it’s progress nonetheless.

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