I just wanted to be liked.

Jaela Dodson

Mass Communications. Theatre. Debate. Yearbook. CAB. NSLS. SAIL. 

At a young age, I was always futuristic, always outgoing, and always curious about the future. I was a happy kid, excited for the future, and rarely had a bad day. Everything was always in my favor and life seemed simple.

From the time of elementary school, I collectively had lots of friends. I was extremely outgoing, so much that my brother would make me ring the doorbell of all the neighborhood kids to come out and play. I knew nearly every kid in the neighborhood. I could easily walk up to new people and engage in warm conversation without feeling awkward. My extroverted personality made me susceptible for a large social network. Self-image and my personality were never things I was uncomfortable with. In fact, I was more than confident. 

By middle school, I became even more extroverted due to social media influence. Around this age social media was at its peak. Every middle schooler had an I-pod or smartphone with the ability to text or download the latest social media apps. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook were the main social media platforms for middle schoolers. Everyone wanted the most followers, likes, friends, comments and views. Most of the time, we never knew who we were friends with. Sometimes it would be friends of friends, kids in the same grade or school as us, kids from other schools, or even other kids from the same city. Middle school social media was the spark of my stressor. Overwhelming anxiety weighed over me. How much of a social media influence can I contribute? Competition struck on whose pictures looked the most aesthetically pleasing, and who’s page had the most everything. The more followers, likes, and comments, the more socially acceptable you were. Outside of social media I had a large social network and was well liked and accepted, but it did not matter if I could not prove it online.

Constantly on edge I questioned myself.  Did I get enough likes? Should I delete it since I only got 100 views? Maybe I need more comments? How many followers should I try to get this week? The social life I once lived in person, strictly became an online platform. 

In high school my confidence completely plummeted. The once outgoing, happy, extroverted girl now felt anxious and depressed at the hands of social media. My social life interactions were rigorously done behind a screen. No longer socializing in person, I quickly became introverted and lonely. Unbearable anxiety to be and live the perfect Instagram model life. The excruciating anxiety lead me to thoughts and feelings of suicide, never feeling good enough. The future became a blur to me. I was miserable trying to keep up with the image of myself I wanted that I stopped feeling like I was living. The dreadful life I started living behind a screen made my real life never feel good enough. Never feeling good enough sent me on edge resulting in numerous failed overdose suicide attempts. 

Research shows that Social Media Hurts Girls More Than Boys. Experts evaluated social media as the trigger for a list of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and suicidal behavior among youth. I was not surprised by the article’s conclusions. Many other girls in my age range suffered mental illness due to the stress of social media. Social media’s role is to help people discover and learn new information, share ideas, interact with new people. Although communication has made daily life easier, it has changed the way people live their life – some for good – some for bad. 

Often, I feel I am a victim of social media drowning. At one point my life was utterly controlled by the influence of social media. The confidence and happiness I once had was destroyed. My life never felt satisfied no matter many followers, likes, or comments I received. Anxiety became my new normal, and I had no way out. 

Five years later, I am now in college. With the help of counselors, I broke up with social media. The control social media once had on me was released. I have learned to be happy and confident with my image. Although I still deal with anxiety, it no longer weighs over my life. Looking back five years ago, I never would have thought I would be alive or where I am today. Social media broke me, but it also made me who I am today.

Social Media Hurts Girls More Than Boys

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