For young people all over the world, social media is somewhat a necessity. It’s where we read the news, find sources for assignments, and connect with our colleagues. Nowadays, we even find information about internships through social media!
We can’t ignore that social media has also become an escape from our everyday lives. We scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn when we’re bored in a queue and even when we’re bored of work. Social media has become a fantasy world, especially for the young minds currently stuck in a pandemic.
What happens in fantasy? Everything is rainbows and unicorns. In this escape from reality, people demand to see the glamour in life. The so-called influencers who show off the most luxurious lives receive the most staggering reward: millions of followers. With countless eyes watching all their movements, there is simply no room for mistakes. Is social media fame a gift or a curse? In this blog, I would like to take you to the backstage of social media.
It’s filled with manipulation.
Who doesn’t know Zendaya? Many fans would argue that she’s one of the most beautiful idols of Generation Z. We find out that her picture has been manipulated to fit the unrealistic beauty standards on the screenshot.
If a beloved Gen Z idol like her can’t escape from image manipulation, then how hard is it to believe that influencers with perfect skins and athletic bodies don’t look like that in real life?
Let’s also talk about how we’re often jealous of influencers’ happiness. It’s easy to forget that their lives are filled with ups and downs (like regular human beings, duh) because they usually share only their happy moments and achievements. The truth is, influencers curate their content to be appealing. Their feed is not a true reflection of how happy their lives are.
Imagine: an influencer just posted a selfie. You scroll through the comment section and see many people complimenting this influencer. You keep scrolling… and it doesn’t take you long enough to find a bunch of bullies leaving mean comments.
With millions following their social media, you can’t expect everyone to be friendly and loving. Some people even create fake profiles to send threats and slanders with the “safety” of being anonymous.
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” We can say the same thing to these influencers. No matter how strong a human being is, constant cyberbullying can ruin one’s self-esteem.
It’s easy to get jealous of an influencer’s way to earn money. “It must be fun to get paid for advertising products and traveling,” you think. You might not be aware of your blessings, but consider yourself lucky to have a job with precise holiday schedules.
Social media influencers need to be online every single day as it is a 24/7 job. The moment they stop posting content or replying to comments, their engagement rate will decrease, affecting their income. Do you feel sick or just lost a family member? If you’re an influencer, you have no break time at all.
How can these affect our mental health?
While many of us might be aware that social media is full of retouched photos and fairytale-like contents, it’s impossible not to feel envious while looking at a “perfect” selfie or a fantastic vacation picture. When we’re not careful, it can lead to insecurity about how we look or what’s going on in our own life.
So, how about the influencers’ mental health?
Imagine living a life where you have to be perfect all the time. This demand is dangerous to one’s self-esteem and body image. Many influencers retouched their pictures, go into extreme diets, and even resort to plastic surgery to fit into the beauty standard.
These influencers feel the need to be perfect for their income and their fear of being cyberbullied. Even those with strong mental states get worn down with constant criticisms and comparisons about their physiques and achievements.
On top of that, being an influencer is a tiring occupation that requires someone to be online almost 24/7. An influencer cannot be inactive for too long because it will decrease their engagement rate, and later their income. Working all the time without enough breaks is harmful and can lead to mental fatigue.
As young people, we have to be wise in using social media. Social media is the perfect place for us to find news and opportunities, so we can’t let the fantasy part ruin our experience. Mental health is everyone’s issue, whether you’re the influencer of the influenced user, as WHO envisioned the better world as a place “where physical, mental, and social well-being are assured.”
As you can see, social media is not all glamour. We need to remember that influencers are ordinary human beings with flaws and ups and downs, just like us. Remember this every time you scroll through social media and take breaks off the internet if you need to.