As a young adult trying to find my place in a seemingly forever changing world, technology was a way to connect with the people around me, sharing a love for always knowing what other people are doing, and caring way too much about lives that have no effect on mine. I was phone obsessed, loving the way I could text my friends and stay in constant contact with the people I loved. But with technology, came social media. I was always checking the number of followers I had, the number of likes, and planning specific outfits and opportunities to create content that I knew my “friends” aka followers would like. Every photo was planned: a cute outfit, a happy smile, and a fun activity, designed specifically to create envy from other people looking in on these snapshots of moments in my life. At the lowest point in my life, my social media had me looking like I was at my happiest. If they didn’t see me every day, the people looking at my accounts would have absolutely no idea that I was finding it hard to function in my every day life.
Despite knowing how I was using social media, I failed to understand that others were using it in the same way, looking at peoples posts and feeling like I was missing the secret ingredient to happiness that everyone else had… according to their social media posts. Social media has created an entire world where we have no way of knowing what’s real and what’s fabricated to give viewers a certain idea or impression. It’s made everyones best moments seem like their every day moments, giving viewers a sense of envy and a feeling as if they’re missing out on something in their own lives.
Every like on social media brought me a feeling of elation, every new follower sparked a release of dopamine, making me feel like I was on top of the world- a winner in the world wide popularity contest. It was exhilarating and fun to create new photos and captions and videos, but it was exhausting to see everyone else best moments and constantly feel like I was trying to measure up.
As an educator, and a future parent, the idea of my students and kids being raised on social media is both exciting… and terrifying to me. As someone who wasn’t allowed any sort of social media until I was 13, I still struggled immensely to keep my mind in a positive place and to teach myself that social media was not an accurate depiction of real life. Children seem to be joining the world of social media at such a young age, running headfirst into the world of admiration and basing your worth off of numbers on a screen.
I hope that all educators take the opportunity to teach children about the world of technology they’ve been born into and to caution them on the illegitimacy of everything they encounter. While this world of social media is fun and exciting, it’s not always what it seems to be, and often times, younger children are blind to that fact. I plan to teach my students that not everything they see online is real and that they can live a fulfilling, incredibly happy life without thinking about what other people think of them. It’s so important to live authentically and without thinking about other peoples opinions. All children deserve the chance to live their lives freely and on their own accord, worrying about what makes them happy and making choices that make their own hearts happy. I hope that all educators take the chance to stress that while social media is a fun and incredibly engaging way to stay connected and share moments from our lives with others, it should not be taken to heart and should certainly not dictate the way that people live their lives.