Social media creates inauthenticity among teens

Emma Elliott, Staff Writer

In recent years, with the rise in the use of social media — primarily Snapchat and Instagram — teens have become more in tune with others lives … or so we say.

If you were to check the profiles you’re following on Instagram, you’d probably see perfectly edited photos, wide smiles, pictures of close friends, school accomplishments, sports wins, among other things. But the thing is, that’s not reality.

Social media has made teens inauthentic. It’s where we go to share the happy moments, the quirky videos and the photos that make us appear as though we’re in the best mood. We’ve made our lives seem perfect online and continuously make it appear as though we don’t face a single struggle in the world.

While there are many perks to social media and staying connected, feeding into the idea that we must have a perfectly curated life with the right angles, lighting, clever captions and perfect doses of fake authenticity can’t be good for our mental health. There’s no use in creating a fake social media personality and shaving our attention until its paper thin.

As I’ve gone from being an elementary kid playing at the park with my friends to being an active user of social media throughout middle and high school, I’ve noticed the difference in interactions among people my age. We’ve allowed our time to be consumed by who’s posting what new amazing thing, being envious of others and portraying ourselves in a certain way on our own profiles so that we too can evoke that feeling of envy in others and gain more followers.

We’ve become so nervous about imperfection that we create finstas and private stories where we post the realities of our everyday lives with a smaller pool of people. We feel as though we know everyone when in truth, we’ve really only seen what people want us to see.

I can go online and see anything on a person’s social media before I’ve even met them in real life. I have met genuine people going through real struggles with the preconceived notion that their life is well-rounded.

Maybe we like having control of an aspect of our lives that’s accessible by essentially anyone we please. Maybe we like others to see us as happy, but why are we so afraid of authenticity? What do we gain from the ingenuity of putting the good, aesthetically pleasing parts up to see?

As social media becomes more pervasive, we’re creating a gap between people. If it’s “social” media, then we’re not using it for its true purpose, but creating a bigger divide and making ourselves feel more lonely. We’re creating a feeling of intimacy that doesn’t truly exist.

Instead of trying to be perfect, we should try to be real. Talk about your passions, how you started off not-so-great at something but improved tremendously, meaningful experiences with your friends, your struggles. We need to stop assuming we know someone because of their Instagram page or the goofy things they post on Snapchat. Instead of trying to be perfect, be yourself and allow others to do the same without judgement.