The Facade of Happiness on Social Media

Sitting through the first Kane Social Media class my thought process went something like this: (1) Professor Kane is animated, cool! (2) How do I manage all of this on canvas? (3) Where are we on canvas now? (4) This is a lot of information (5) Professor Kane is crazy! (6) That girl looks like she’s going to drop the class (7) Should I drop the class? (8) I think I just saw that girl drop the class (9) What’s due when? (10) I’ve heard such great reviews @SethiBisman @luthra_aditya (11) Extra credit for signing up for presentations early? Hmm (12) This kid better stop shaking his leg (13) Signed up for week 2. HA slow pokes don’t get possible extra points (14) Twitter as a grade? Cool. (15) Professor Kane is definitely crazy. (16) Pretty excited for this class and learning about social media!

I feel that all of the prior posts have been praising social media and I would like to take the rebuttal. Everyone is always praising social media. While there are undoubtedly beneficial aspects of social media like news alert distribution, increased awareness, increased marketing exposure, natural disaster relief, overall marketing, communication and much more, there are also many downsides.

Why am I taking such a pessimistic view on social media? When I first moved from sunny South Florida to the icy tundra that is Boston, I was constantly checking up on my friends on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. As the months rolled by and Summer turned into Fall turned into Winter, my friends from home continued the usual beach days at their state schools while I was bundled up in the library.

To paint it in better terms, all my home friends looked like this
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While I looked like this
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The result was, naturally, me resenting my decision to leave the Sunshine State and yearning to return to it. I perused through countless Instagram and Facebook posts that painted the ideal, happy picture of all my high school friends. I had this perception of perfection in the lives that they were leading and I felt diminished in the life that I was leading. I felt defeated every time I scrolled through Facebook, everyone seemed to have his or her life together, meanwhile I was confused by the purpose of a vest and trying to figure out why Worcester is pronounced “Wooster.” (We can talk about my culture shock and confusion with the northeast another post, it’ll be a long one). Finally, I attributed the pressure I felt to be perfect and happy was exacerbated by social media.

I am not the only one who suffers from this problem. “Problems that were frequently cited by [Boston College] students as being harmful to one’s self-esteem included the pressure to look or dress a certain way, the hookup culture, and the housing lottery.” How do we know how someone is dressing? How do we know where they’ve been? How do we know whom they are dating? Instagram, Snapchat, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook. @bishopkh1 wrote that the first thing she does every morning is check various social medias. She’s “received the brief of what my friends were doing last night from Instagram and Snapchat.” By doing that, she can suffer from FOMO just as @jagpalsingh03 mentioned – “Should I have gone out? Wow that looks really fun, why wasn’t I there? Am I wasting my college experience?” Boston College is plagued by social media because it constantly filters life to show only the “best” moments and it’s physically impossible for each individual to be everywhere at all times. When an individual only sees the best moments it creates a pressure to either be there or to also contribute to create a facade of your also perfect life on social media.

It took me about a year, but I soon learned the solution to the problem.

  1. Don’t go on Facebook or Instagram during snow storms/finals.
  2. Not everything that everyone posts is 100% accurate and true.
  3. Not everyone is perfect. Just because he or she portrays themselves as happy and successful on social media, does not necessarily mean that they are.

If you don’t empathize with anything I have just said, here are some supporting statistics on how social media can be bad for you.

  • Social media enables the spread of unreliable and false information.
    • 49.1% of people have heard false news via social media.instagram-vs-real-life-sums-it-up
  • Social networking sites lack privacy and expose users to government and corporate intrusions.
    • Facebooks privacy settings (who reads all of it before clicking “accept?”)
  • Students who are heavy social media users tend to have lower grades.
    • Students who use social media had an average GPA of 3.06 while non-users had an average GPA of 3.82 and students who used social networking sites while studying scored 20% lower on tests.
  • Social networking sites can lead to stress and offline relationship problems.
    • A University of Edinburgh Business School study found the more Facebook friends a person has, the more stressful the person finds Facebook to use.67283530
  • Social networking sites entice people to waste time and causes people to spend less time interacting face-to-face.
    screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-1-15-01-am
  • Location tracking on journalists and the military has put them in danger.
    • A blogger was found murdered by a Mexican cartel in 2011 with the note “this happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report things on the social networks.”
  • Social networking sites harm employees’ productivity.
    • Over 50% of people agreed to checking social media at work (and let’s face it, we know there’s some that did not admit it).
  • Using social media can harm job stability, employment prospects and even college admissions! They look for everything from illegal acts to misspellings in a status.
    • Children may endanger themselves by not understanding the public and viral nature of social networking sites thus hindering them later for their employer or college.
    • More tips on how to hide from your employer here.7b9300e969ebacdbbe1ebf8c921d927c
  • Social networking sites facilitate cyber bullying and people who use social networking sites are prone to social isolation.
  • The use of social networking sites is correlated with personality and brain disorders, such as the inability to have in-person conversations, a need for instant gratification, ADHD, and self-centered personalities, as well as addictive behaviors.the-selfie-syndrome-infographic-feeldesain-social.jpg
  • Social networking sites encourage amateur advice and self-diagnosis for health problems, which can lead to harmful or life-threatening results.

All in all, think twice before you post on Facebook that interesting scone you had for lunch and check in at that restaurant, don’t take every single smiling picture as the epitome of that individuals life, don’t let instagram make you feel as though you’ve missed out on something and definitely do not snapchat while driving over 100mph.

 

 

8 comments

  1. One of the best opening paragraphs for this blog assignment of all time! Maybe I overplayed the “crazy” side in this year’s opening speech, but I think we ended up with a nice sized group of (hopefully) adventurous people. It makes for a better class. This tension between SM personas and real life has come up a bunch over the years in this class. Not sure we’ll come to a resolution, but we’ll definitely think about it more deeply. I always appreciate students who try to think against the grain. Glad you stayed in the class!

  2. First off, really appreciated the shoutout! This post was a great change in pace from other posts and highlighted a lot of aspects of social media that aren’t readily talked about. I appreciated the honest and candid comments about the negative effects of social media in so many aspects of our life and it definitely pushes for deeper thinking. I especially loved the fact about the Mexican cartel – definitely makes me think twice about the negative impact social media can have. Thanks for sharing!

  3. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    This was a great post and I think nearly everyone in the class had those same thoughts running in their head on the first day. It is interesting to see just how much social media can affect you and in so many ways too! The .8 decrease in GPA from excessive use of social media is astonishing. Cyber bullying is also incredibly prevalent online but as of this past week, it seems like many platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat) rolled out plans to curb malicious attacks. Do you have any thoughts on this? And thanks for the shout out!

    1. I am so torn on this subject because I always hoped a person could disconnect to get away from cyberbullying but I find it impossible to disconnect in today’s world. Bullies, in any form, will always find a way to terrorize their targets and social media has just given them a new outlet. Facebook has the “hide, delete, report, ban” features and twitter has “mute, block, report” features. While this may help minimize cyberbullying its not the only solution. To be honest, I don’t see a solution that allows people to be online and not receive criticism. There will always be someone out there with an opposing opinion and it’s up to that individual to realize that when posting something. I would love to tell victims of cyberbullying not to take the criticism to heart and that these malicious people are only saying it online because they are too cowardly to say it in person, but I’m afraid people cope with situations in various ways. Fortunately, there is a great deal of focus and awareness on this topic that has produced many great resources that help cope with cyberbullying. The link I put in my article — https://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/what-is-it/ — is just one of them!

  4. ikechukwu_28 · ·

    The stats you have on how social media can affect users are very interesting. In particular, the point about how social networking sites encourage amateur advice and self-diagnosis for health problems stood out to me, as I myself am guilty of doing this on many occasions. I also like how you brought up the MPH filter on Snapchat. I always wondered what they were thinking when that filter was made; it seems pretty obvious that it would be conducive to car accidents.

  5. emmaharney21 · ·

    I absolutely loved this post. I loved how you used real life experiences and then followed with facts to explain the negative effects of social media. I think this is a really important place to start in terms of thinking about social media. It has some serious negative effects that we need to consider both from a societal and economic standpoint. You kept me laughing the entire post!

  6. I’m a big fan of this topic and I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve found the false facade that people display online to be the most off putting aspect of social media. I had viewed it nearly as a social phenomenon, but you have brought to light some very startling statistics. For one, the GPA disparity is massive between users and non-users. Another note that hit home with me was the tendency towards online interactions v. in person interactions. I make a very specific effort to interact with people offline, but I have seen seemingly articulate writers and personalities by my friends online that are not mirrored in any way in real life. Great post.

  7. gabcandelieri · ·

    This was an awesome post! Your format and content is not only entertaining, but flows nicely and keeps the reader wanting more. I 100% agree with the idea of a facade of happiness on social. I touched upon this briefly in my post as well, especially regarding how fomo can literally propel users to post just to feel included in these “social media villages” as well as how most of these platforms idealize individuals to the point that they are barely recognizable in person. I can most readily relate to your fact that “Social networking sites entice people to waste time and causes people to spend less time interacting face-to-face”. There have been points when my friends and I have been out to dinner and we suddenly realize no one is talking because some are too busy checking Instagram for what other people are doing or snapchatting to make it seem like we are having more fun than we are. As a result I am a big fan of putting all phones in the center of the table. Hopefully our culture can retain some of this ancient face-to-face communication idea our parents keep talking about…

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