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Instagram vs. Reality – How the Online Social Sphere Affects Self-Esteem

by Skylar DeNoyer, BSW Intern

Social media is a platform all too familiar in the 21st century. First, we had the rise of Myspace in 2003 and Facebook in 2004, and these were only the beginning. Social media used to be about networking and connecting in order to provide opportunities or keep family and friends close. However, with the introduction of Instagram in 2010, the social sphere shifted to a more selfish approach. From photo editing and picture-perfect “influencers,” to the dark realization that often nothing we see online is 100% true, social media now has a stigma attached that will forever be detrimental to the mental health of younger generations.

When I was a teenager, I was wrapped up in the Instagram world myself. I saw so many celebrities and influencers posting pictures daily, getting likes and comments galore, and I wanted IN. I wanted to be that girl with the nicest looking profile, aesthetic filters, and likes upon likes. Followers and interaction were everything when it came to a successful social media page. What I did not realize what how it truly affected the way I viewed myself.

According to a recent survey, 71% of individuals edit their selfies before posting them online. With the existence of applications such as FaceTune and VSCO, children, teens, and adults are able to not only alter their physical appearance at the slide of a finger, but allow for the world to see them in light that is quite literally… filtered.

At such a young age, self-image is so fragile. Social media beauty standards have constructed an image that is impossible to replicate and toxic to look up to because it is not real at all.