This week, I opened up an Instagram account. Not because I want to put a million pictures of ‘look-at-me-I’m-so-hot-cool-fit-fun’ but because I was told I needed a social media ‘presence’ for my upcoming project. So, I decided to go and do what 400 million people are doing and opened up an Instagram account. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms of the moment. It has overtaken Twitter and I decided that I needed to tag along for the ride.
The Power of Social Media
Last week, when Donald Trump won the American election, he attributed his victory to social media: http://fox43.com/2016/11/13/donald-trump-credits-social-media-with-helping-win-the-presidential-election/ This has demonstrated the power of social media and how it has infiltrated our lives. I have some friends who won’t touch social media but no one can deny that it has become incredibly powerful. Trump has claimed that instead of spending millions on his campaign, he put his efforts into social media, and it paid off.
When I started posting photos and getting ‘likes’ and looking into other people’s accounts, I realised that Instagram is a legally, socially accepted form of voyeurism and stalking. Just like the photos, you can filter your life to make it look amazing/cool/fun all the time even though it really isn’t (I wasn’t going to take a picture of myself scrubbing my toddler’s poo-stained-carpet was I?). I also decided not to put any pictures of myself or my family for our personal privacy, and to only put photos of beautiful places and beautiful things.
It is also incredibly addictive. After 4 days of being obsessed with Instagram and being bombarded with 59 likes on one of my photos, I was exhausted. Social media sucks you in and I can see how you could spend hours on it. Now that I get what everyone is talking about, I can go back to being a back-seat-social-media-user.
Happiness vs. Success & Power?
What has emerged though is that social media is making our children more stressed and anxious, especially girls: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/16/social-media-mental-health-teenagers-government-pshe-lessons There is a much higher incidence of mental health problems in young girls today since the advent of social media, with too much emphasis on how you look, what you’re doing, and the pressure of keeping an image of perfection. It only emphasises how important it is to control our children’s social media activity. For power and success, social media may have its role, but for your children’s happiness, it may be wise to restrict their social media as much as possible.