How is Social Media Affecting Our Mental State?

Kaya Perry, Co-Editor

As technology has advanced over the years, social media has become more prominent in everyday life. This has had some positive effects within our society but also some negative ones. It’s most noticeable in younger generations who have grown up as technology has advanced. 

Photoshop has always been used to portray the ideal way people want photos to look. Models’ bodies are often always shaped into a figure that is not their own. However, Photoshop wasn’t available for public use until recently. Women are most affected by this because popular culture and social media have set standards for how their bodies should look. Young girls and women want to fit into this standard because they believe it’ll make them more attractive.

Many social media apps have filters built into their cameras that users can utilize.  A filter is a layover that you can add to your photos and videos. Apps such as Snapchat and Instagram include photoshopping features in their filters. They can add things such as a crown or different-colored hair. However, most of these filters slim one’s face and smooth their skin to make the user appear “more attractive”.

A 2018 study by the American Academy of Facial and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery found that 55 percent of patients wanted reconstructive surgery so they would look better on social media apps. This was a 13 percent increase from the previous year. 

Although filters make users happier because they feel better about their pictures, it also tricks the user into only feeling this way when they use the filters. This leads to the user developing body image issues because they’re used to looking a certain way in pictures that they don’t look like in reality. Many don’t even know that they’re hurting their mental state when they use filters. This is bad for current and future generations.

Dr. Schimpf, a surgeon from Sweetgrass Platic Surgery, explained that “Filters can have [a] real effect on a child or a teenager who has lost hope because they don’t look a certain way.”

Body image issues linked to social media have increased so much in recent years that Tijon Esho, a cosmetic doctor from Britain, has discovered a new disorder named Snapchat Dysmorphia. Although it is currently an unofficial disease, it is a form of an actual disease called Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). These disorders cause the person to see an aspect of their body as severely flawed or distorted. Even if the person doesn’t develop BDD itself, they could still show signs of dysmorphic behavior or possibly develop an eating disorder. 

These problems will only worsen until something is done to help. After some research, it was found that the only true solution is, without eliminating social media as a whole, is to increase social media literacy for users. They need to understand that social media is not a competition, and it doesn’t reflect on one’s worth.