I wrote this article about my experience with social media and its psychological influence I am looking to publish. Any feedback (especially grammar wise) is much appreciated.
I have big, long, curly hair. And for a long, time, I had no idea what to do with it. I hated seeing all my friends with straight hair glide from PE to German without a hair out of place while I looked like someone put me in a wind tunnel. I spent my freshman year of high school with my hair in a bun. But thanks to the world wide web, I was able to find blogs, Instagram pages, and Youtube channels full of curated advice and helpful tips so that I could wear my hair down without fear.
But that same resource that helped me over come my struggle pulled me down a different rabbit hole. I began comparing my hair to that of the “gurus” that I saw online. I wondered why my hair was so frizzy and theirs was not. I wondered why my hair styles did not last days and days like theirs did. I wondered what I was doing wrong, and scanned the internet for answers almost obsessively. And the more I searched for “curly hair help”, the more videos and posts I was recommended, and the more frustrated I became.
I ended back where I started : unhappy with my hair and unsure of what to do next. This went on for a while. I tried new techniques constantly with now success in making my hair into that of a “model”. And even though these influencers said under their photos, “My hair does not always look like this” or “This is my best hair day this week”, I did not care. I wanted to replicate the alternative reality they presented online. And due to social media algorithms I was pushed further into a bubble that emboldened this desire.
But as I learned about the harms and dark patterns of the internet through the Humane Tech Community, I began to distance myself from my social media. I stopped looking for hair advice and started concentrating on myself. If I had I bad hair day, I did not feel like I had failed in some kind of technical capacity. I walked out the door, and did not worry about what other people thought and the unattainable standard I was not meeting. I accepted that I was human, imperfect, and that it was okay to not look like my “best” self all the time.
And my experience, my struggle with the alternate universe created by social media, is not unique. As Dr.Emanuel said to the Child Mind Institute, “for some teens their social feeds can become fuel for negative feelings they have about themselves.” We become consumed by the pursuit of a aesthetically perfect life that others have while feeling dissatisfied with our own lives. A Psychology Today article dubs this the comparison trap, and explains why social media exacerbates the issue by stating: “It creates a tsunami of excess information at warp speed, which could intensify the effects,” says Princeton University psychologist Susan Fiske, who coined the shorthand “envy up, scorn down” to summarize the feelings provoked when we weigh our worth next to others’”. The influx of information provided by social media and the feed back loop of recommendation and related posts place us in an environment where detrimental comparison is inevitable, even natural as the article states comparison is a “fundamental human impulse”.
My realization of the harmful effects of social media inspired me to create The Reconnect Project, which strives to provide an avenue of escape from the alternate reality provided by social media, and a method of promoting mindfulness. A chance to reconnect with your own mind and your own thoughts, outside of the digital world.