Pick your poison: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or any number of other things. Social media is a dangerous territory. You may be thinking “How is liking my Cousin Joe’s post about his cat dangerous?” the answer is, it’s not. But here’s what is. Pictures.
If you have open accounts you leave yourself vulnerable to anyone who goes looking. Know what that means? Someone with an internet connection and a smart phone can find out virtually anything about you. For instance, if on your Instagram there’s a picture of you at Christmas with a boyfriend, and then in February there’s a tweet about a nasty breakup, this person already knows you’re single, and the kind of guy you are interested in. If they look at your Facebook, they’ll know where you work, where you went to school, family, friends, and whatever else you have up for the world to see. This person, wherever in the world they may be, already knows most of your life’s details without even knowing you. And really, that puts you in a dangerous position to have an unwanted stalker.
So do yourself a favour — because you deserve the best for you — and make your accounts private. And if you’re worried about the boys not finding you, don’t worry! They like a little mystery, and that waiting time will drive them wild with excitement!
Now, here’s the other dangers of social media. They all put a lot of strain on us to look our best. And yes, sometimes this can be good. Seeing pictures of others doing something can make us see ourselves in a positive light and see the potential to do those things for ourselves and that is great. But there’s also the problem that some people post pictures solely for getting “likes” and that’s just not good for body image. Once this starts happening, you stop dressing for yourself and trying to please everyone and that is an impossible task. And all of this leads to the fact that the girls with more attention fall into the category of “slim fit beauty” and leaves out anyone who doesn’t fit in with that. And it’s not just women, but men as well. With the anonymity of the screen, people can say what they feel like without realising the extent of their words.
Every day people are subjected to harsh comments because they don’t look a certain way, and why do we — society — think that it’s okay? It is never okay to make someone feel uncomfortable in their own skin. We accept these things as normal online, but we don’t allow them in public. If on social media we used our anonymity to lift people instead of crushing them, there wouldn’t be any dangers. Social media amplifies our worst insecurities and we’re forced to make an effort to look our best at every waking hour (and sometimes those sleep selfies too) and it’s exhausting! Can you remember before Instagram, when people wore makeup for big shows and parties and walked their dogs in pajama pants instead of putting on a cute skirt?
We are in an age where cyberbullying is at an all-time high, but it’s not just cyberbullying anymore, now there are branches of it. This is called “social bullying.” One in three women says that harassment on social media has gotten worse over the last year. 57 percent of women say they’ve received negative comments online. Of those, 25 percent say they’ve been called names like “bitch” or “slut.” Eight percent say they’ve received threats like “you deserve to die.” And the worst thing is, most people will see someone being bothered online and do nothing to stop it. Yes, that might make you a target, but if we live in a world where nobody gets defended then all we’d ever do is harass each other.
Social media is the worst place for a teenager to be. Not only are they subjected to these cruel comments, they’re also bombarded with advertisements about diets and makeup and skin cleansers. It’s unhealthy for anyone to constantly be reminded of what society wants them to look like.
But here’s the wild thing. When we stop paying attention to those, and love ourselves the way we are and ignore all of this social bullying, social media can become an amazing thing where you meet new people with common interests and dreams.
So 2018, let’s make you the year that we stop being so cruel on the internet and use our words to make others feel good about themselves. Within social media, there’s enough power to make the world a brighter and kinder place.