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Perhaps the most debilitating yet commonly used influence on modern society would be social media. It is obvious that social media and other online platforms provide an abundance of social connections and benefits. However, the mega companies behind these devices also pose as a threat to the millions of users who partake in online activity, these can be especially detrimental to young and adolescent women. These industries and their marketing tactics can heavily impact a young women’s level of self-worth, outward self-confidence and even their psychological ability to function outside of a digital world.
Throughout the past few years’, we’ve seen an enormous cultural shift to digital comfort and only showcasing the highlights or worthy parts of our lives in order to appeal to others stigmatized standards of how we should act and live our daily lives. These trends can be easy for an adult in society to differentiate and filter through. However, when these patterns become normal for young women in our society, we find this vulnerable demographic of girls constantly changing, shifting, and hiding, while on the constant prowl of peer approval and inner gratification.
This becomes very evident when a popular medical journal called Child Mind, explains that, “Teens who have created idealized online personas may feel frustrated and depressed at the gap between who they pretend to be online and who they truly are.” As a result of this being stated we may clearly indicate that this is not a small issue limited only by the people in our lives, this is a widespread issue that must be more prevalently addressed and put in conversation.
Nonetheless, before we bring this ordeal into conversation, we must understand the reasoning as to why this deficiency is becoming a stronger issue in society and more importantly how social media is deteriorating our generation of young women at an unimaginable rate. An addiction counsellor by the name of Dr. Steve Rose displays the impact of “the like button” that we find on various social platforms. He states and poses an interesting question as he states that, “Even though we are not consuming a chemical, compulsive social media use can be classified as an addiction.
So, if social media use can be classified as an addiction, what does it do to your brain?” Another addiction counsellor by the name of Sarah Polk shares a shocking way to think about social media and how it may evolve into a full-blown addiction in not talked about and put into perspective for young emerging women. Polk emphasizes the role of dopamine as a neurotransmitter associated with craving and reward expectation, putting individuals at risk of compulsive behaviors when reencountering a trigger associated with the potential reward.”
In other words, when we put it into a medical terminology and perspective, when users get a rush from seeing people liking their post, it unknowingly mimics the same high as harmful drugs. I can personally attest to the harmful doings of the digital world. As a result of being an avid CrossFit and competitive weightlifter since middle school, I had a constant shadow of jealous criticism and doubt that would follow me online. Many times, it was other girls saying I would grow into a man or have too big of muscles to be feminine, being called names as I would walk through the halls of my junior high or being attacked in the comment section of my social media accounts, “oh look here comes the oger” or “V, you need to stop lifting weights people are going to think you’re lesbian.”
If I am going to be completely honest, these words and phrases deeply hurt me in the moment. Although looking back, I thank my dad for raising me to have thick skin and to pursue my passion and grow stronger as a whole. However, as I think to myself and ponder, what if I didn’t have that strong support system or thick skin? What if I had folded and conformed to the empty words of a jealous person on the other side of the screen? I would’ve lost out on an abundance of opportunity and some of the greatest memories and friendships of my life.
This is the unfortunate reality of our fragile pride, women grow shameful and if not reassured or told otherwise, we begin a downward spiral into an ugly word of depression and low self worth, we see no light or purpose in trying. In final analysis, the most detrimental thing we can do to young women who have been impacted or exposed is to take away devices or punish them for this dystopian interference with real life. By creating trustworthy relationships and building self-confidence and worth outside of the digital world, we are then allowing for purposeful knowledge and one’s moral compass to shine through and not subside, but rather to fight this toxic epidemic and empower those who struggle in the same ways. These are the girls of today creating the women of tomorrow.
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