The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

The Student News Site of Bellevue East High School

The Tom Tom

People should use social media more responsibly

As the years go by, technology and its capabilities continue to evolve. And it’s done us well, there’s no judging that, with the possibilities of self-driving cars and tech able to catch criminals. But along with that, is the reality of social media networks. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, whatever it may be are all designed with one thing in mind- keeping users scrolling.

This endless scrolling is an addiction. And it’s hurt people in ways they could have never seen coming. Not only does scrolling aimlessly on social media hurt users mentally, but it can have very real impacts on lives outside of a screen as well.

Today, I can almost guarantee you that you can ask anyone how social media makes them feel, and most of the time, you’ll be given negative responses. When we scroll endlessly through the (often fake) lives of influencers and celebrities, we find ourselves comparing ourselves to them. You might find yourself making comments like, “oh, she’s got such an easy life!” among others.

Frontiers in Psychology found that social media usage correlates to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression; according to them, this correlation could be “induced by the continuous comparison the individual makes and the perception that others are doing better than him/her.”

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Of course, as I mentioned before, social media doesn’t just hurt the mind. Lives outside of these user interfaces are hurt too- in fact, social media actually can lead to overspending habits.

According to Sarah Brady from InCharge, over a third of people admit they overspend just to try to keep up with the fun that their friends have on social media. In a survey they conducted in 2021, “more than 50% of Gen Z’ers said they went to TikTok to discuss financial planning and to Instagram for financial advice.”

Sometime in January, a video on TikTok of a huge crowd of people swarming a shelf in Target for Stanley cups went viral for its overall chaoticness. Stanley cups are basically reusable, portable drinking cups, and often range from ~$30 and up.  One moment you saw a shelf full of cups- and the next? They were gone. Another TikToker (who’s 16!) claimed that her parents have spent around $3,000 buying Stanley cups for her. If each cup she purchased was $30, that means she has 100 cups.

As Stanley cups are meant to be reusable, why on Earth does one need so many? The simple answer is one doesn’t. The only reason someone would choose to spend so much money on reusable cups is for the clicks and validation that influencers get from people viewing their posts. 

Trends come and go. This one is no exception. Three months later, it’s safe to say our favorite influencers have moved on. And the money that users spent on hundreds of Stanley cups? Never coming back either. At least they have eight cups in five different shades of pink!

In a way, social media platforms almost promote hivemind-like thinking. Information, opinions, whatever are constantly being spread, and with the continuous crave for validation, it’s not an understatement to say that social media can destroy independent thinking. Humans are capable of adapting to many situations- including fitting in. In a world where having a different opinion makes you “weird,” the internet only promotes that.

Nowadays, students are also almost always on their phones. Quite frankly, I’m no exception to that either.

According to Link4Campus, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are designed to be addictive. Students, in turn, will spend hours upon hours scrolling through feeds, leading to a loss in productivity.

Students often feel the need to check up on their feeds simply because these platforms have been programmed to keep students coming back for more. They are engineered specifically to keep users scrolling for hours and hours, which obviously leads to a decline in productivity, and even other hobbies. 

I’m not saying to completely throw social media out of the window. It’s true that social media helps us- it creates connections to people all the way across the world, allows us to communicate with people that would otherwise have been unreachable to us, among other things. But too much of a good thing can be bad. 

So, what can we do? For starters, each of us has to acknowledge that there’s a problem. We spend too much time on these platforms, consuming harmful content. And if we do choose to spend time on the internet, keep time in mind. Not only that, but unfollow influencers and celebrities that promote unhealthy or unrealistic lifestyles. 

Apps target content towards you that match with content that you tend to spend more time on and interact with. So, to filter out the negative content, spend less time on them. If there is an option, ask the app not to recommend content like that. Don’t like or comment on these videos.

While social media and technology continues to grow, it’s still in early stages. The first smartphone was only invented about 20 years ago. Once users learn that these platforms are programmed to keep you hostage, it becomes much easier to learn how to take control of them, and use them responsibly. Use your critical thinking- if some information you find feels off, research some more. Don’t take financial advice from a middle aged mom from Oklahoma over a professional’s. And most importantly, don’t forget that you are more than likes and clicks.

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About the Contributor
Brianna Yang, Features and Co-web Editor
Hi! I’m Brianna, I’m the features and one of the web editors for the Tom Tom! I’m an avid Kung Fu Panda fan (possibly minorly obsessive), and I love playing badminton, hiking, and playing guitar. I prefer the acoustic guitar 100%.

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