We Have the Discourse About Social Media All Wrong


Photo courtesy of pexels

Social media is persuasive and pervasive for high school students here at Crofton High School and elsewhere.

Ty Benedict, Staff Writer

Over the past few years, discussions about social media and teens’ relationships with it have become increasingly mainstream.  It graduated from the world of academia and pediatricians to parenting blogs, schools, documentaries, and even Anne Arundel County’s school community meetings. But with all of that, is the core of the issue getting lost in translation? Is social media the only factor in this equation?

According to the National Institute of Health, social media has been found to have a detrimental effect on users’ mental health, causing higher levels of depression and anxiety. Another study done in 2015 showed a correlation between social media use and poorer body image in young women. So according to these studies, social media directly affects users’ well-being and body image. So if people just were on platforms like Tiktok and Instagram less, they’d all be better off, right?

Unfortunately, the war on the average person’s body is a much more pervasive poison, which has a storied history of exploitation, shame, and dangerous fads.

Throughout modern history, there have been countless marketing campaigns targeting people’s insecurities and wanting to have the “ideal body” (which has changed a lot, mind you) to get them to buy products meant for them to gain or lose weight.  However, a lot of these products were practically snake oil, including but not limited to electric fat removal, yeast pills, fat ‘jigglers’, and tapeworm eggs. Nowadays, those methods are now widely disproven, but they indicate a long-standing pattern of shady fads preying on our body image. The current state of social media—just like the newspaper ads and TV products before it—is just another tool that this specter can use to infect the minds of the public. Due to the algorithmic and lightning-fast nature of social media, these ideas spread fast, are recurring, and can reach more people than ever before.

Although tackling social media usage among all age groups is a good step in the right direction, it is far from the only thing that needs to be done. The only way society will truly be cured is by taking a holistic look at its values, and dismantling the systems that have enabled these pressures to thrive.