The Censorship of Social Media


Creative Commons

Taking an appeasing photo for social media

Social media is a place where people present a preferred version of themselves, their relationships, and their experiences, which can be misleading. Dean Behrens, a guidance counselor at Pennridge, says, “Everyone looks like they’re having a great time, everyone looks perfect in these pictures, well that’s not reality, and people can feel like they’re missing out” People censor what they show so it is seen as ideal and desirable. People use filters and edit pictures leaving certain aspects out yet again, censoring what is shown and believed to be. It can be easy to get caught up in the highlight reel of someone’s life, forgetting that there is a lot more happening behind the scenes.

Finally, social media can be fake because people may present a version of themselves that is not authentic. People may use these tools to alter their appearance, making themselves look more perfect. This can impact younger people, who can be influenced by what they see comparing themselves to these unrealistic standards. Behrens gave his advice on being your true self “Thats hard, being comfortable in your skin, some are, and none of that bothers them, but it can bring you down especially those who are less confident, just be confident to a certain extent and not worry, just ignore it” People may pretend to act or like certain things presenting a version of themselves that they think will be more popular and accepted. This can be draining because people feel the need to constantly change and censor themselves to fit in with what they see on social media without realizing that what is seen on social media is only altered bits and pieces.

As social media usage rises, social pressures can affect people increasingly; many struggle to be true to themselves. This silencing of your true self has many negative effects, including mental exhaustion. Behrens says that when a student is struggling, “The most important thing is to tell an adult; it will fester if you don’t, and eventually it will pop, and you’ll start thinking irrationally.” One way people can silence themselves is by keeping their feelings and struggles hidden. Many people have good and bad days, but some bad days can go on for weeks, months, or years. As this wears down on a person, it can get worse and worse. This exhaustion can affect the person but also their relationships and work. If you need help, ask a trusted adult. Behrens also mentions the importance of knowing that no one will be upset if you say you need a little help. Behrens says he sees many students, usually more often guys, who say they don’t need help and can handle it all by themselves. He also notices many situations where mothers will be okay with their children seeking help, but fathers can sometimes not see the point. But he also mentions that from the time he was in high school to now, the stigma against mental health has decreased a lot. Mental health is more talked about in real life and on TV and other media so that more students are comfortable asking for help.

People can also silence themselves by trying to fit in rather than being their authentic selves. Many may see this as only a school-age problem, but people in their 20s and 30s can still struggle with this. This social expectation that many will try to follow has been going on for years and years, even before the introduction of social media. Forcing yourself to fit into a certain group can also be mentally draining and can hold you back in many ways. It can force you to have different hobbies and take different classes, which can hold back your career and passions. And you may also find yourself in groups that can affect you negatively. As Behrens says, people often complain and make fun of people, especially with social media. And with the internet, it’s seen more than before. But a positive outlook on life is very important and will help you in the long run. So, if your friends seem to be negative most of the time and it makes you uncomfortable, or you realize it’s affecting you negatively, try to distance yourself from the negativity. But you also need to focus on your own thoughts and try to make your thought more positive.

Lastly, another way you need to make sure you don’t silence yourself is with your passions. As mentioned before, don’t ignore your hobbies or interests because they don’t fit in with whatever is popular at the moment. Finding your passion is one of the most important things because then you can shape the rest of your life around it and be much happier.

If you are struggling with your future, with friend relationships, or anything else you may need help with, you can contact your guidance counselor. He/she will then direct you to a resource. You can find them in your class offices or on the school website. And remember that no one will be upset if you reach out and ask for help; that’s what they’re there for.