A Sad Generation With Happy Pictures

Lola Karimi ’25
EE Staff Writer

​​The pressure to appear happy, could be making you unhappy. Social media arranges a platform where people from all over the world can share their lives with each other. While this was initially created to create a larger community and feeling of being with one another, it has actually done just the opposite. 

We’ve known for a long time that social media sites, particularly those with an emphasis on images like Instagram, can be highly detrimental to a teen’s mental health, especially for those who are already battling with issues like body image, anxiety, despair, and eating disorders. We know from experimental research that Instagram, with its algorithmically driven feeds of content tailored to each user’s engagement patterns, can hook impressionable teens onto unrealistic ideals of appearance and body size and shape and draw them into a dangerous spiral of negative social comparison.

According to a study by Murmuration.org and the Walton Family Foundation, Gen Z (42%) is about twice as likely as Americans over 25 (23%) to battle depression and feelings of hopelessness. Social media provides such a warped view of our mental health issues that they are often overlooked. After two years of decline, suicide rates shot back up in 2021 and are continuing to rise rapidly. 

Due to the pressure to be happy, we compare ourselves to others and begin to believe that we are failing at life if others appear to be happier than we do. It causes us to have a distorted perception of what makes others happy and what happiness looks like. The pressure to constantly be cheerful and optimistic makes us feel like we can’t be honest with ourselves and others about our troubles, which can keep us from getting assistance when we truly need it. This is perhaps the most harmful effect of all.

The worst part of all of this is that there is no way to stop it. Creators of social media platforms are well aware of the negative impacts social media has on vulnerable teenagers, and they are making a huge profit off of this. Teenagers get hooked on watching other people’s lives to see if theirs is living up to it, and this causes more app use. 

The most important part of this is that young adults are no longer reaching out for help when they need it most, and instead of focusing time on themselves and improving their life, they spend time posing for happy pictures.

One Response to A Sad Generation With Happy Pictures

  1. Jude Magnotti says:

    Fantastic Article

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