OPINION: Social media has completely lost sight of its original purpose


Khánh Nguyễn

FILE PHOTO: Country music singer and song writer, John King, records a video for his Instagram story during his performance.

Social media was originally created as a way to connect society. By posting videos, photos, and thoughts onto our social media feeds, we can almost instantaneously share what’s going on in our lives with acquaintances, distant relatives, and friends who have moved far away.

 What a great thing, right?

 Well, in today’s society of comparing and judging, social media seems to have taken a turn for the worse on many different levels. Some young people now stare and scroll on their phone for hours just to compare their bodies to the bodies of models and “influencers” who show up in their feed.

 Beyond unhealthy comparisons, we also see the rise of cyberbullying, which affects people differently than other forms of bullying. There’s not a week that goes by where I don’t see at least one headline talking about depression that stemmed from cyber bullying.

 Cyberbullying can have considerable effects on someone’s mental health. 

 What the creators of social media didn’t see, perhaps, is that not only does social media give good-doers any easy platform to share good messages, but it also gives bullies an easy way to find their victims.

 The disconnection of social media is also straining friends and family alike. Next time you go out to eat, look around you. How many families do you see conversing? How many families are just sitting around the table on their phones?

 If my words don’t convince you, perhaps seeing that will. Do a little people-watching at a busy restaurant and notice how many people of all ages are staring at their screens.

 That made me realize something. Social media’s original intent was to connect us. I believe as time has gone on, it, or we, have lost sight of it’s supposed original intent.

 For example, I remember when my mom first got Facebook. She thought it was the coolest website ever. She could see what her old high school friends were up to, get in contact with relatives far away, and stay up-to-date with the news and events happening around Wichita.

 Even with all of these positive aspects, she ended up deleting Facebook not long after. She found herself on it way too many hours of the day, and it took away from time with her family and time for productivity.

 Don’t get me wrong, there are many perks to social media — especially when it comes to businesses.

 If someone wants to create a successful business, their first step almost always seems to be creating a social media account, which makes a lot of sense. Almost every person nowadays uses some sort of social media platform. If you want to reach a large group of people, social media is a good place to start.

 There are also many social media influencers who take to the various platforms to spread positive messages. Ashley Graham, a plus-size model and influencer, for example, uses her social media accounts to spread the message that no matter their size, everyone is beautiful just the way they are.

 As you can see, social media has both positive and negative aspects to it. Do the positives or the negatives outweigh each other? In the end, that is your decision to make.

 On one end of the spectrum, social media is inherently fake. It’s full of people sharing the curated highlights of their life to their world and followers. Because of this, it is not a reliable source to compare your life to. This unreliable source might lead to a negative effect on someone’s personal mental and emotional well-being.

 On the other end, social media is a great place for influencers to share positive messages and for small businesses to grow and attract attention much faster than before.

 If you are expecting me to call on you to delete all your social media accounts, you’re mistaken.

I call you to simply do what’s best for you and your mental health. Find your perfect balance.

 For some people, that might mean social media to some varying degree. For others, it might mean no social media at all. Everyone’s different, and that’s okay. Just always remember to take care of yourself and cut off anything negatively affecting your mental health.

Your mental health matters.