The person behind the screen isn’t always who you think

By Laci Strouse

Social media.

The first thing checked in the morning and the last thing seen before bed. Scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and other apps can become addicting and often takes time away from important tasks like homework.

Another way social media disrupts people’s lives is by encouraging an “ideal lifestyle” mindset. The posts people make display their lives at their best: engagement announcements, vacations, baby photos, a shopping trip with friends and more. Rarely are posts about daily struggles or life conflicts made and seen by the public.

Social media is a part of everyday life and is increasing in usage among students. Despite the popularity, some students feel that social media is having a negative effect on their mental health.

“I compare myself to a lot of girls on social media,” Addison Carter, a freshmen Social Work major said. “This can make me doubt and question myself a lot of the time, this has caused my social anxiety to worse.”

Social comparison issues are a major consequence for those who spend their time scanning social media. When gazing through social media, some feel tempted to compare themselves or other people.

“There are so many times I find myself comparing myself to girls on social media, do I look the same as them, do I have blond hair? Is my boyfriend wishing he was with those girls?” Carter asked.

Along with comparison issues, social media captivates people, causing addiction. The tendency to mindlessly scroll through social media is increasing, leaving the user feeling disappointed and drained.

“Since social media is easily addicting, it quickly becomes a time-consumer that does not help my mental state,” Audrey Lane, a freshman Communications major said. “I often leave social media feeling disappointed in myself for how much time I spent on it or I feel lonely because I’m not out doing something as fun as what I see others are doing,”

Social media provides an easy opportunity for people to present the life they want others to think they live to the world. It also provides easy access to comment on whatever you would like, with little to no consequences. Due to the many users who put forth false narratives, no one truly knows the person behind the screen.

Paige Shepard, a freshman Nursing major, knows all about the person behind the screen. In her junior year of high school, Shepard shared her christian worldview in a class which were contrary to that of some of her classmates.

“I was then posted on Instagram by one of the people who favored the opposing viewpoint. I was slandered and hated, because of my faith,” Shepard said. “I was hurt that people would rather post, hiding behind a screen, rather than speak to me and ask why I believe what I do.”

The post remained up for one day, then Shepard found the person who put up the post and explained to them what had happened. She received no further harassment from her classmates and her life returned to normal.

Through it all, Shepard was able to see the Lord in the midst of her trails.

“I was also able to witness this girl and plant a seed. It was amazing to see the Lord work through something that was scary for His own glory,” Shepard said.

Regardless of the many harms of social media, there are still some beneficial factors. Students tend to take advantage of various platforms to communicate and express themselves.

“It has been super beneficial for staying connected with others I do not get to see on a regular basis and it also serves as a platform to share about the ways the Lord has been working in my life as well as in the lives of others, ” Lane said.

After surveying the pros and cons of social media and its effect on mental health it comes down to the individual person. If the risk of negative effects on social media is too high, what should be done to prevent it?

“If it is doing more harm than good, delete it,” Carter exclaimed.

A few students believe that deleting social media completely is a great way to improve mental health. They view the best way to fight the issue is by getting rid of it altogether.

“Deleting social media provides a great opportunity for you to be more attuned to what the Lord is doing in your life and also allows you to rest in that without comparing it to the lives of others,” Lane said.

Others believe the best way to combat the harms of social media is to work on your own mindset. Before viewing and scrolling through social media, make sure you are filling yourself up with truth.

“I would say to know where your true value comes from,” Shepard said. “Many of us, including me, seek approval from many people through social media. This is so contradictor to what the Lord tells us. He looks at the heart, not the number of followers we have, the number of likes we get, or how famous we are. If you are struggling with social media and poor mental health because of this, remove it from your life. Seek the Lord to find truth in what we are to find truth in.”

Laci Strouse is a freshman Professional Writing and Information Design major as well as a reporter for the Cedars. She enjoys reading Christian Fiction, embroidering, running, and golfing with her brothers.

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