Internet culture, social media and you

The process of changing our negative internet culture would take a long time, and could take generations to change.

Look around yourself. If any, count how many smartphones you can see. The chances are, you’ll see at least one. Most of your classmates will have one on their desk or in their pocket.

According to a study done by Pew Research Center, every 81 out of 100 Americans own a personal smartphone. Around 265.8 of our 328.2 million Americans have smartphones, so to say social media could not contain various cultures seems improbable. 

With the rise of the internet, we saw the rise of subcultures in internet communities and forums that grew into multi-million dollar websites. The likes of Facebook, Myspace and Instagram all started with small fanbases and were similar in theory. These focused more on profile-based content, with every user owning a unique account. These platforms exploded, with various cultures connecting across the entire world. This transfer of knowledge, however, marked the start of a negative culture shift for most teenage Americans.

“I think the culture around social media can be negative,” senior Evan Williams said. “We see so many examples of unrealistic expectations, both generally in reference to body image and wealth.”

“I don’t think the entirety is negative, but I feel there are some areas that need to be changed,” Williams said.

According to a 2015 study by European Child Adolescent Psychiatry “25% of young people (13% of boys and 37% of girls) said celebrities have caused them to worry in relation to their body image, and 19% (10% of boys and 28% of girls) said TV shows caused them to worry in relation to their body image.”

“Especially the younger users bear a high risk from exposure to the online world through social networks, as the new phenomena that have appeared such as seduction online, cyberbullying, cheating by hidden advertising messages, etc., greatly influence their psychology and emotional development and often irreversibly stigmatize them forever.” According to a 2016 US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health study.

However, it seems that many younger people see this problem, and want to change it or help those affected by it.

How does culture change? 

First people have to understand what others generally consider the culture’s values and goals on social media. The shared values in social media generally show through who is followed and what types of information we consume. Instagram and Facebook, while quite different, both influence what information we are given, either through advertisements or their suggested content. Facebook mainly draws the attention of older generations, while Instagram is the most commonly used by high school and college students.

On both platforms, Christiano Ronaldo is the most followed individual with 268 million followers worldwide, which is more than the amount of Americans who own smartphones. From there, mainly celebrities and famous companies in the top ten.

Names like Kylie Jenner (221 million), Kim Kardashian (210 million), Ariana Grande (227 million), and Dwayne Johnson (224 million) flush out the next five places. 

In this list, six millionaires to multi-millionaires have been listed, which shows how we follow wealth and status. To further exacerbate our internet culture’s problem with body image, many people see these famous women and men, mostly fit and sometimes artificially enhanced, and they see themselves as lesser in comparison. We cannot let these negative comparisons influence our society, as it leads to many detrimental health effects.

“Body dissatisfaction and a pressure to be thin have been linked to depressive symptoms and symptoms of anxiety disorders such as social anxiety or panic disorder, particularly in those children who do not match societal views of the ‘ideal body’.” A 2017 study done by Dev Psychopathol found.

While social media is not inherently negative, and brings many groups of people together, society cannot ignore the negative impacts that are affecting many across the country. Although society cannot change internet culture in a day, you can help to make social media a more positive and much less toxic place. 

It doesn’t take much at all, really. 

It takes less than a minute to comment something nice on a friend’s post, then they might even follow suit. Regardless, you’ll have made someone’s day better. Those are the positive interactions people need, especially in such trying times.