A Virtual World

How social media is changing the way we perceive others

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The vibrant colors of social media. Since they’re creation these platforms have used visual effects in order to captivate audiences.

I despise social media. I remember when I first got it, I had been so excited to finally join my peers online. My excitement didn’t stay for long as it was not exactly as I expected. It was not as enjoyable as it seemed, there was a lot more hidden behind the scenes. We all had someone in our life telling us about the dangers of social media. I remember hearing my grandparents talk about our generation’s lack of physical communication because of our obsession with these platforms. I chose to ignore these points because of how badly I wanted what everyone else had. If I could do it again, I would have listened and never downloaded these apps. 

I used to use social media daily until a couple of months ago. Now I only use the platform about 1 hour a week. Before I cut back my time on social media I would spend about an hour a day on it. I could not take it anymore. I wasn’t able to deal with the “fakeness” of the platforms. On social media we are able to post the highlights of our lives rather than the reality of our everyday life. We are able to post and view everyone else’s sugar-coated lives. 

While on social media I struggled with the idea of “real life”. I got caught up with the trend of comparing myself to others constantly. I looked at their posts compared to mine and started regretting even posting in the first place. Social media allows us to compare our lives to people who are able to live more lavish lifestyles than us. I started comparing myself to people who aren’t even in similar situations to myself. I finally got tired of trying to control the toxicity of how I perceive myself and how I perceive other people. I decided enough was enough. A change needed to be made. 

The main issue I saw with these platforms was the toxicity it caused. It allowed people to judge themselves and others based on what they saw online and only that. Social media allows someone to judge someone before they even know them. 

Sophomore Alena Kelly believes that the toxicity of social media can cause a lot of problems. 

“Social media is capable of causing anything,” Kelly said. “ When you’re being someone you’re not, you’re not being your true self. Almost as if you’re acting, each day you pick a role that you play out. One that’s deemed perfect in the eyes of social media.”

Social media is causing us to care more about what other people think. It has caused us to care way more about keeping up with other people’s lives as well. These platforms have caused many of us to strive for that validation more than ever before. 

Dr. Ali Jazayeri, an associate professor of clinical psychology at The Chicago School Of  Professional Psychology’s L.A. Campus thinks that there are dangers to social media that we can’t ignore. 

“I think that social media has had a very deep impact on our lives. The world that we see on Facebook and other social media sites is not true and real. It’s a creation of people,” Jazayeri said. “[Social media] presents this habit of always comparing ourselves to others. People, when they are happy, post a lot of happy things. But when I’m not happy I will consciously, or unconsciously, compare myself to others. As a result, I create a world that is not true.” 

Social media has created a real concern from psychologists about the dangers it has on an individual’s self esteem and a person’s thoughts of others. Psychologists like Dr. Jazayeri’s biggest fear is that the virtual world we are creeping into is causing us to forget all of the progress we have made. 

“As psychologists, we have theories based on the reality of patient’s lives. Our goal is to help people try to see themselves for the reality of what they are,”

If we perceive that everyone else is perfect, then we push ourselves to become someone that we are not, and then we get frustrated, and then we get depressed”

— Dr. Jazayeri

Over the years, social media has become something that people feel they need in order to survive. People look at social media as a way to get that validation that they feel they need, but with this comes a toxic mindset. Our desire to have approval causes us to look at social media as a way to change how we are perceived or even how we perceive each other.  

I strongly believe that social media can be a positive space if you have the right attitude going into it. If you go into it with a negative outlook your response is going to be negative, but if you approach it with a positive outlook your results could be the complete opposite. 

Kelly explains her outlook on social media and how it helps her. 

“When it comes to social media, I try to walk into it with an I don’t care or this shouldn’t cause me to change anything about myself mentality,” Kelly said. “While it may seem like I’m going into this with a blind eye, it helps to remind me that I am my own person and I need to stay true to myself.” 

If we could all just sit back and take what we see on social media with a grain of salt we would be in a much better place. In this generation we have a hard time stepping away from the toxicity, but if we all would step back we would be able to create a more positive platform. The perceptions we form based on their virtual lives are deferential to how we see ourselves and the real world.