Opinion: How Does The Use of Social Media Affect Our Self-Esteem?

By: Ariana Moreno

OwlFeed Journalist

Imagine this: One of your best friends is overly self-conscious. To you, they are perfect in every way. Now, imagine her/him constantly bringing themselves down. How does this make you feel?

This is how our everyday teenager feels on daily basis, from the kid who has few friends to the star football quarterback. Why?

Social Media.

Social Media has molded our society into what it is today.  

Many celebrities such as Selena Gomez have spoken publicly about self-esteem. In Selena’s “Stay True To Yourself” speech she relates a certain angle of her life to her fans. Public figures speak out all the time yet self-esteem is still an issue.

Look around you, technology is everywhere. From waiting in line at the grocery store to stopping at a red light, there is always a cellphone nearby. That being said, it is easy to snap a quick selfie or a photo of you having fun with a group of friends. But, what about when we are the viewers and not the poster? How can that affect us? Actually, posting a photo can affect us almost as much as viewing a photo on our newsfeed.

But how, how can a mere app on our cell phones affect our mental health?

Envy.

Well what is envy? Envy is a feeling of discontent or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Envy can come in many different forms. An individual can be envious of another’s relationship, life, appearance/weight , or even employment. Within social media, envy can be shown in every type of form especially since social media is used for everything.

Statistically, 35% of online teens reported in a case study being worried about friends tagging them in unattractive photos online. In addition, 27% of teens felt self-conscious as well as stressed about the selfies they post; and 22% claim they feel bad about themselves when no one comments or “like” their posted photos (Common Sense Media, 2012).

Teens carry so much unnecessary weight over their heads for no reason. No one should have to feel this way about themselves, nor should they feel this self conscious about their own pictures.

Everyone loves a good selfie whether you’re posing with your dog or even just feeling good about yourself. Willa Bennett asked teens to talk about how selfies impact how they view their bodies: this is what a selected few had to say.

“I think selfies can get competitive at times. If you post too many selfies you’re ‘self-centered,’ but if you don’t post any people might not know what you look like and you’re labeled as ‘fake’ on social media. Ugh. There are so many unspoken rules of social media, it’s exhausting.” – Eddie, 18.

There are so many expectations that come with having social media. Social media is intended to connect with your friends, be yourself, and have fun yet society creates these expectations that one is supposed to have. Why be a part of social media if we all are constantly going through this merry-go-round where we have to meet these standards in order to seem “cool”?

Another teen told Seventeen magazine that “Selfies were super hard for me to look at when I was struggling with an eating disorder. It was like a constant reminder that I had big cheeks, and tons of flaws that I wanted to fix ASAP…” -Eli, 19.

Sure selfies can be a good thing, but for teens like Eli, they can do more harm than good.

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Photo Courtesy of Dr. David Mabrie

Snapchat is the most commonly known social media outlet. It is a great way to stay up to date with close friends, but Snapchat can also be harmful. This is where Snapchat filters and many other features are brought to our attention.

“Sometimes I will put makeup on to just go outside to take a picture to make it look like my life is glamorous and I naturally look this way. Filters work magic.” —Allegra, 17

Why do social media apps like Snapchat make teens like Allegra want to put this curtain over their lives to make it seem better than what it is?

Snapchat’s filters are meant to be “beautiful”, at least according to society’s standards. The beauty filters such as the flower crown filter pertain light eyes, a change in skin tone, and eye shape.

Obtaining a positive body image doesn’t just happen. Its influenced by many factors, such as the people you surround yourself with  (parents and peers) , and social/physical environment.

Although filters are not always a bad thing, I do not approve of them. I also feel that Snapchat should take some responsibility on their part for creating “beauty filters”. I don’t see the use of filters dying out, if ever.

Hopefully one day society’s views on beauty change and we can finally lift the social strain off of many teens’ shoulders.