Social media creates added pressure

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Column by Vesna Brajkovic

Sept. 10, 2014

In a world where nothing is official until it’s Facebook official, and all the most important family news only reaches us through a post, it’s easy for social media to get overwhelming.

Oftentimes students find themselves feeling the pressure to constantly compete with their peers and deal with rejection on a daily basis leaving them upset, even depressed.

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Social media creates competition

Most people post only their life highlights online, such us job gains, engagements, marriages, births or good deeds and leave out all the “bad stuff.”  Although there will always be a fair share of complainers anywhere you go online, there’s an overwhelming majority who post the best of the best. For instance, Facebook and Instagram are usually used for sharing the sweetest and most brag-worthy posts.

The constant need to “one-up” a peer may not be the intention, but it certaintly ends up feeling like it. As many people on a friends list are most likely near the same age as a user, or at a similar stage in life, many may feel a competitiveness arise. In an already very competitive world, social media adds another layer. Many times students may start to feel like they’re not living up to expectations, and will often feel lost or depressed.

Fify-one percent of people in a survery conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion said social media, like Facebook, does more harm than good to their relationships.

In one of 40 studies, a 2010 analysis by the department of psychology of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, concluded that Facebook could increase jealousy in relationships.  It’s important to remember that not everyone’s book is the same. You can’t grab a Jane Austen and a J.R.R Tolkien, flip them both to chapter 7 and compare. They’re both books, but they’re different. One is not better than the other based on a chapter; there’s no competition. But that line gets crossed with social media. Everyone is constantly in a battle of comparison, when it doesn’t necessarily need to be.

Pressure to impress peers

Social media is a great tool to help stay in touch with long-distance friends and family and stay involved in community groups. But it also creates a world where everyone is tracking everyone. Every trip, decision, job change or event they go to can be followed.

Most students may find themselves checking up on social media almost subconsciously.  The pressure to constantly be updating about something noteworthy may become stressful and demanding.

“If you are predisposed to anxiety it seems that the pressures from technology act as a tipping point, making people feel more insecure and more overwhelmed,” Anxiety UK CEO, Nicky Lidbetter said in an article to huffingtonpost.com.

How many times have you seen someone post something and then delete it minutes later because the ‘likes’ weren’t pouring in? It happens all the time. The pressure to appear popular and liked at every perspective can get exhausting.

The image you give off on social media determines how you want to be seen. It’s the best version of yourself in your eyes, most of the time.

Instead of just living, people may be searching for something to add to their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or at very least Snapchat. Every moment captured, documented and shared. It can be become stressful and exhausting for many people to live up to this online version of themselves they want to portray.

Although the pressure to impress peers may get to some students, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll, 34 percent of social media users ‘somewhat prefer’ to interact with acquaintances using social media, rather than face-to-face.

Dealing with rejection

People can be brave, bold and harsh on social media, and not everyone on the receiving end can take criticism so lightly. Criticism can cross over into online-bullying pretty quickly.

Applications like Tinder, a match-making mobile app that connects to others in a predetermined area, makes rejection almost easy. But there are other forms of rejections on social media that can hurt even more.

There’s always a few people that you feel bad deleting or unfollowing because they were once a part of your life, whether it be from high school, an extended family member or a childhood friend. But sometimes those same people can be the most toxic to have in your life, even if it’s your online life.

This type of rejection is the hardest to realize because it’s not a perfect definition of rejection. It’s the kind of rejection that just makes you feel unincluded, distant or unworthy of a friendship without it being outright said.

Social media can be a great tool, but it also can lead people down a path of sadness, or depression, that they wouldn’t be on otherwise.