Social media Ruining relationships Essay
Is Social Media Ruining
the Lives of Young Women
The most vulnerable online targets aren't always as helpless as we think
Every few months or so, I take a moment to pause and reflect on one of the few things in my life that causes me profound and unshakable gratitude. Thank God, or whatever benevolent force there may be in this universe, I think to myself, that Twitter did not exist when I was in high school.
Of course, this introspection isn't without cause. Every few months, there seems to arise a new chunk of evidence—or at least a new wave of think pieces—about how the Internet is ruining the lives of young women. The latest comes from Katy Waldman at Slate's XX Factor blog, in a March 14 post partially titled "Social Media Makes Girls Hate Themselves." In one new study, Waldman explains, plastic surgeons report an uptick in teenage female clients seeking surgery because they don't like their appearance in online photos. In another, 960 college-aged women were surveyed for disordered eating patterns, then split into groups assigned to either look at Facebook or research ocelots. The social-media-skimmers' incidences of destructive thinking around food increased. The ocelots, thankfully, were harmless.
In addition to the data Waldman presents in her piece, the media has produced plenty of other evidence to back up her assertion that social media is making young women more vulnerable to self-loathing. Similar studies and articles have been making waves for years, including a 2011 study that claimed the more time teenage women spent on Facebook, the more prone they were to developing a negative body image. That study inspired a CNN essay in which a college peer counselor noted that whenever she spoke to a sobbing young woman, "Facebook was being mentioned in some way in just about every conversation." In turn, this spawned a roundup of teen reflections on the web community Proud2BeMe, which included statements as terminally depressing as "people get positive attention in the world by losing weight, " or, simply, "the less clothes you have on, the more popular you are."
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