We live in an age where social media is everything. From scrolling through endless amounts of friends’ sunny photos from abroad to tweeting a picture of our avocados on toast, there is no escaping it. 

Since the boom of the online masses it has become nearly impossible to go a day without checking up on likes, followers or seeing what everyone we know is up to when they update their status. It’s become the perfect distraction. But, how reliant are we on checking in on the world via this virtual reality? And more importantly, how much does this digital world actually affect us?

It is hard to deny the advantages of social media. Everything in the world is at our fingertips. We can interact with celebrities and public figures in ways that were never possible before the age of the internet, granting us inside access to their lives and their viewpoints. The small smartphone nestled inside your pocket is your key to unlocking an online world full of endless possibilities. 

With the rise of the internet, people have become connected in different ways. You can now jump onto Twitter and see what absurd tweet Donald Trump has decided to post or head to Instagram for a new Kim Kardashian-West selfie. All of this with a tap of a screen. 

Employment is also being altered with the introduction of YouTube videos entitled ‘What I Eat In a Day’ being considered as a day’s work. Online communities rapidly grew and with them grew their following as it became more usual to have millions of people engaging with your content. All of this highlights the ever-growing online community and the ways in which they continue to entertain and benefit us. However, with such a complex world comes consequences. 

With such an emphasis on keeping up appearances on our social media pages comes a lot of unnecessary pressure. Posting the best Instagram picture with the funniest caption has now become something that is at the forefront of our mind. When to post it and how many likes it gets are problems faced with every new addition to your page. When did we become so consumed in this online façade?  

Living in the generation of the smart phone has changed our identity formation greatly. Identity formation is defined as the distinct personality of an individual. The traits and characteristics in which we possess are evolved by our exposure to the online world. It has massive effects on the mental health of young people and their level of self-worth and love. Young writers, including Charly Cox and Scarlett Curtis, have explored this negative impact of social media through their writing and ensure that it is a conversation we are actively having.

Adolescents have different priorities in today’s world than those of our parents and grandparents. We are shaped into different people as our virtual influences have such an impact on our everyday lives. Constantly evolving media means that we are now subjected to immediate reminders of other people and their lives, be this more exciting, successful or wealthier than our own. 

Despite the connections made and retained through social media, we live in a world in which we couldn’t be further away from one another. Bus rides are now full of headphones on and phones in faces and dinner time with the family can often mean everyone’s eyes glued to the TV in silence. This pulls us away from the closeness of human interaction that was once felt. Those around us endlessly shape and influence the people that we become, but how can this occur when they interact with the screen more than you?

Social media has changed the world we know, and the uses of this medium are still constantly evolving and improving. It has become so vital in everyday life that it is now something so many depend on. Despite the great qualities that social media has, it is detrimental to our mental health and something which should be used with great caution. Through using social media, we have a presence which can not only affect ourselves but others too. It is an extremely delicate platform which should be used only for the good of everyone using it. 

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