When you read the title, I’m sure you can relate in one way or another. And as I do with almost every post I write, I’ll start with my own personal backstory before beginning…
I remember the very first social media account I created was a Twitter when I was in fifth grade. It came with my phone, so I made an account, but never used it. So, I suppose that doesn’t exactly count. Near the end of sixth grade, when I was twelve years old, I created an Instagram account. Soon after that, many sites followed; Facebook, Twitter, Gifboom, Keek, Kik, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr. I became a teenager at the height of social media.
Social media sites like these appeal to the people in my generation; self-centered, vain, consumed and ignorant young people who want to show themselves off online.
Websites like Instagram and Facebook caused many problems for me, as you’ve read before; seeing everyone post all the time with their friends was extremely hurtful when I had no friends at all, blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.
What didn’t occur to me until recently is how I, personally used social media. My main territory was Instagram. Once it started to gan popularity around 2012-2013, I was a queen. That was when I was in seventh grade, and things hadn’t gotten so bad for me. I had a few friends, and I would post pictures of us together often. As I drifted away from friends, photos were just of me.
I remember sitting in my room, trying to take the perfect picture of myself from an abstract angle, and then spending the longest time zooming in on my face and erasing zits, enhancing the color of my hair, erasing the freckles on my face. I would put photos through filters, and then think up captions to post along with the photo. By the time all friends I had had were gone, I started googling the average time people were on Instagram (5pm) so that I could post when everyone would see it, and make everyone think I was okay. That I wasn’t lonely.
This is all rather embarrassing to admit, that I cared so much about what other people thought about me. I put up this bullet-proof wall in which no one could tear me down. I wanted to be the prettiest girl, I wanted to be desired by everyone. I even made up fake people that I claimed I was hanging out with so I didn’t look like a loser.
I just wanted to fit in with everyone else, who posted untouched photos of themselves looking beautiful. I wanted to be the girl in the center of a photo of a gaggle of close friends at Six Flags. I wanted to be the girl who was being embraced by the boyfriend. But I was sitting alone in my room, editing my face and making myself look skinnier than I was for hours.
I became consumed with Instagram, scheduling when I would post what, so that I seemed to be perfect. As awful as this sounds, it’s true; I wanted everyone to be jealous of me.
And then, of course, came Ask.fm. I got tormented on that site, molested by trolls. When I learned of the girl who killed herself in 2013 due to bullying online, I quit everything.
Social media is so awful to a teen’s growing mind. It shows them images of what you should look like, and what someone like you should be doing. It makes you feel inferior, and causes you to do things like me; making yourself into a completely different person than you really are. It strips at the walls that you’ve been told to put up as a child– be yourself, be yourself, be yourself. You can’t be yourself if you’re continually trying to one-up someone else.
I think I would be a different person if I had never gotten involved in social media. Luckily, I deleted my accounts online in eighth grade when things got awful for me. I lost interest in everything, including being perfect. That’s about the time I came to school wearing ugly clothes, and hiding my face behind layers of dark, dark black eye makeup. I didn’t care anymore, I didn’t want to be the best. I had worked so hard, and ended up nothing.
But, unfortunately, social media is everything these days. I went back online this past summer, but I don’t try to be the best anymore. I try to put myself out there, who I actually am. I don’t let myself get consumed in everything out there, because it’s impossible to be perfect.
It is tempting to drop everything and strive to be the most perfect girl. It is really hard to not loathe the people who post photos of them being naturally beautiful with all of their friends. But I always stop myself and remember, you are not them.
If I haven’t said it enough times, it is impossible to be perfect. Not everyone has everything together, and you can’t try to seem like you do. Social media just heightens all of these emotions that come along with coming of age, and you’d be in a good state of mind to know when to step back from your phone or computer and just think about yourself in a positive way.
Comparing yourself to others and trying to fake being happy or popular won’t get you anywhere; take it from me. Being honest with yourself about yourself will get you so far. I promise.
Be kind and always think before you post things. What you say online can haunt you or someone else forever.
(sorry I sound like an overprotective mother, but I hope no one has to experience the tearing down of self-image by social media.)