How Social Media Connects and Divides us at the Same Time

Social media has an undeniable impact on teenagers today. Almost every second of our lives is spent scrolling through feeds, posting our favorite pictures, or tweeting about every nuisance that enters our world. Social media gives people the opportunity to connect with others in ways that we hesitate to in the real world. But with every innovation, there is controversy.

The presence of social media provides teenagers with an online platform to speak their minds freely and express themselves in ways that are we often water-down in the real world. The pressure to say the right thing with the right tone with the right body language is rendered useless when it comes to online platforms. Already insecure young adults don’t have to worry about how they are being perceived for once, and with this comes the confidence to speak online. Online, you can present yourself however you wish. You have the power to choose how you look, where you appear, how you speak, and how you act. Because of this, social media offers the perfect common ground to connect with others with similar or opposing views.

Apps like Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat that are popular among teenagers, provide a basis to connect with people nearby or make new friends. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 67% of Americans using social media, use it to stay in touch with current friends. Keeping up with and interacting with friends online shows the people in your life that you care about and think of them when they are not around. Yes, social media can be dividing when it comes to controversies, but what isn’t? Social media provides teenagers with the chance to further connections by developing online and real-world relationships, something that is important to a developing adult.

One of the social media’s biggest critiques is that it is difficult to navigate an online world where you often can’t tell what is real and what is edited. A study conducted by TRUEPIC revealed that nearly two-thirds of Americans posting photos online photoshop them prior, but this really isn’t surprising. Almost everything we surround ourselves with is advertised at least misleadingly. Advertisers often substitute glue for milk in cereal ads to keep the cereal from sinking, or spray deodorant on fruit so that it appears shinier and tastier. If we are force-fed idealistic images in real life, why wouldn’t that mirror into the virtual world?

Social media has mastered the ability to simultaneously connect and divide communities, but either way, these communities are still interacting which is what really matters.

Written by Tessa Stigler, Opinion Editor

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