Social Medias Negative Effect on Health and Culture | Teen Ink

Social Medias Negative Effect on Health and Culture

March 13, 2023
By ColeTCL BRONZE, Colorado Springs, Colorado
ColeTCL BRONZE, Colorado Springs, Colorado
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Dr. Rachel Cullen is a high school teacher and even she can tell that students are getting addicted to their phones because of social media. She herself was even addicted for a while and getting sucked into the false perfection that it displays. She then deleted social media 2 years ago and has said that she enjoys life a whole lot better. Hopefully, we can all either delete social media or limit our usage to be able to enjoy life. 

Social media has become an essential part of modern life, with millions of people utilizing sites like   Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a regular basis. Social media has many incredible benefits, such as connecting individuals from all over the world, but it also has inevitable negative consequences that cannot be overlooked. Although social media can be used for a positive impact, people should recognize social media's negative impact and limit social media usage for an increase in personal health and cultural health.

With the increase in social media usage, cyberbullying has become rampant and it is taking a toll on teens' mental health. According to Whittaker and Kowalski, “texting and social media [are] the most commonly used venues for cyberbullying.” Commentary on evidence: Texting and social media give a forum for cyberbullying, and victims may find it difficult to escape the abuse. Cyberbullying, unlike face-to-face conversations, and victims can be targeted in their own homes, where they should feel protected. Moreover, cyberbullying may be anonymous, making it harder for victims to identify their assailants and for authorities to take action against them. In social media, people can be anonymous which makes it easier to spread “terrorizing messages and bits of gossip” to whatever victim the oppressor chooses (Akram). The statement highlights the harm of anonymous identities spreading false information and harassment to other individuals. Since today's world is becoming more connected digitally, it has become easier for malicious people to spread false information about others and cyberbully others. This harassment, in turn, causes the individual to become depressed and full of hateful thoughts about themselves because of the harassment. All of these negative and suicidal thoughts take a detrimental toll on their mental health. People have even been making false accounts of individuals and posting defamation about them: “ A.B. found someone had created a fake Facebook profile using [their]picture…[including] ‘unflattering commentary about the girl’s appearance along with sexually explicit references’” (Angrove). The statement emphasizes a troubling trend of online harassment and cyberbullying via the establishment of fake social media personas. This person defamed A.B.’s name and called them despicable insults. After hearing all of this, A.B.’s mental health went into a downward spiral along with emotional distress, leading to anxiety and depression.

Social Media is a danger to people's mental health because of the false perfection that it exhibits. According to Dr. Rachel Cullen, “social media's false perfection that it displays leads to people unhealthily comparing themselves to others.” The controlled and edited versions of people's lives frequently offered on social media can lead to a mistaken perspective of reality, leaving people feeling inadequate and insecure. With the emergence of social media platforms, there has been a greater emphasis on image and appearance, with users frequently displaying just the most favorable elements of their life. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and poor self-esteem by creating an appearance of perfection that is hard to achieve in real life. Em Ford made a youtube video displaying how this false perfection affects viewers when they see the reality behind the fake beauty: “A comment saying ‘I can’t even look at her face’ appears around her, and more harsh comments follow, such as ‘WTF is wrong with her face?’”(Tarvin). The viewers of Ford's video were so used to her face full of makeup, promoting the false perfection of how beautiful she is. However, when they see what she looks like with no makeup, they lose their minds calling her hideous and other obscenities. The viewers have been so caught up in the false perfection that they do not recognize real people or how to even see real people. 

The negative and hateful trends of social media have started to have a pessimistic effect on the populace's culture. In politics, social media has assisted with the spread of radicalization according to Evans and Williams; “virtual interactions can inspire or encourage adoption of radical beliefs is well documented in court records, interviews, and surveys” (2). It has been demonstrated that social media algorithms generate "echo chambers" in which individuals are exposed to just the content that they already believe in, potentially bolstering extremist ideologies. This, in turn, fosters more extremist political ideologies, further separating the country and increasing polarization. Division eviscerates culture. Even in car culture, social media is tearing away at it. In Patterson’s youtube video, “Car Culture Has Changed: 2012 vs 2022,” he warns people of takeovers; “stay away from those…takeovers.” David Patterson has lived the majority of his life invested in the car culture. However, when social media got developed and more mainstream, it changed for the worst. People on social media have been posting meet-up spots for takeovers, where they go and “takeover” an intersection and do doughnuts in their cars. Many people get run over by these cars and either seriously injured or killed but the people around see no harm in this as it is just more views for their Snapchat story. Millions of dollars in property damage also take place at these takeovers. Car culture used to be a fun and happy place where people could show off what they worked hard to build and what they enjoy doing, and in most cases, it is. However, these takeovers are becoming more mainstream through social media and are leaving a negative connotation on car culture, which is having a negative effect on the honest people who are active in it.  Social media is an outlet for propaganda and dissemination of countries; “Bradley and Shaw compiled a list of countries where active engagement in propaganda via social media spread” and they found that “29 countries [provided] the launching point” for the propaganda ( Peregrine Technical Solutions). The use of social media as a propaganda weapon is not new, but the magnitude of its reach and influence is worrying. Social media platforms enable malevolent actors to target certain groups with targeted messages that can affect their views and actions in a simple and low-cost manner. Furthermore, the pace and volume with which information is distributed via social media may make determining what is accurate and what is not challenging. This might lead to misunderstanding and distrust, aggravating the situation. 

While it is commonly acknowledged that social media has a mostly negative impact on society, it is important to recognize that it also has some benefits. One of the most significant benefits is its ability to reconnect with people who have lost touch over time. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that social media has drastically affected people's communication skills in the real world. As one author notes, "people don't know how to talk or communicate with one another" (Cullen).

On the one hand, social media is a remarkable tool that connects people worldwide through the power of its networking capabilities. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the negative aspects of social media far outweigh the positive ones. It has the potential to drastically affect people's lives and the way they think. For instance, many individuals are willing to do harmful things to gain attention on social media platforms. As Cullen observes, this is a significant concern because the detrimental effects of social media can be long-lasting and damaging to both individuals and society as a whole.

Although social media may have a good influence, individuals should be aware of its negative impact and restrict their use of social media in order to improve their personal and cultural health. Studies have shown that social media can cause anxiety, depression, and suicide. It also contributes to cyberbullying and discrimination, polarization in our democracies, and negativity in our culture. People must limit their social media usage or delete it so they can enjoy life better and live in the moment and with “real” people. 

The author's comments:

I am an 18-year-old and a senior in high school. This is written to show the drastic effects of social media on our world today, including our health and culture. Hopefully, this article will coerce you to limit your social media usage.  

Works Cited:

Angrove, Gillian. “‘She’s Such a Slut!’: The Sexualized Cyberbullying of Teen Girls and the Education Law Response.” EGirls, ECitizens: Putting Technology, Theory and Policy into Dialogue with Girls’ and Young Women’s Voices, edited by Jane Bailey and Valerie Steeves, University of Ottawa Press, 2015, pp. 307–36. JSTOR, Accessed 2 Mar. 2023.
Akram, Waseem. “A Study on Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society.” International Journal of Computer Sciences and Engineering, 2018.,
Elizabeth Whittaker & Robin M. Kowalski (2015) Cyberbullying Via Social Media, Journal of School Violence, 14:1, 11-29, DOI: 10.1080/15388220.2014.949377
Patterson, David. “Car Culture Has Changed: 2012 vs 2022.”, 2022, Accessed 23 Feb. 2023.
Rachel, Cullen. Interview. Conducted by Cole LeBlanc. 2 March 2023
Sample, C., et al. “A Cultural Exploration of Social Media Manipulators.” Journal of Information Warfare, vol. 17, no. 4, 2018, pp. 56–71. JSTOR, Accessed 3 Mar. 2023.
Tarvin, Emily. “YOU LOOK DISGUSTING: A Case Study of the YouTube Beauty Community.” Studies in Popular Culture, vol. 41, no. 1, 2018, pp. 37–65. JSTOR, Accessed 3 Mar. 2023.

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