Arts & Life, Opinions

The fabricated reality of social media

By: Lyda Dok and Cameron Flores

There’s a lot of pressure for college students to present themselves a certain way on social media, only sharing the positive aspects of their life.

“Sometimes you try to show yourself in a certain light and it makes you question your own identity, it makes me question myself and how I want to present myself online,” Bethany Maksimuk, a third-year public relations major at CSULB said. “I feel like my online presence is a much more perfected version than my authentic self.”

According to a study from the Pew Research Center, 76% of all college students use social media daily. Popular social media platforms today include Instagram, Youtube and TikTok. These platforms are how most of our generation receives news, gather information and communicate.

“There’s a lot of things that are portrayed in social media that aren’t necessarily realistic,” Michael Barraza, associate director of counseling, psychological services Long Beach said. “People begin to compare their existence and what they do to what they see and there’s this huge gap between their experiences and people’s actual day-to-day lives.”

“Individuals frequently engage in selective self-presentation on social media, resulting in a stream of posts and images that are often carefully crafted to portray users in a positive light,” according to a study published by the North Carolina Medical Journal, which often leads to young adults negatively comparing themselves to others regarding their accomplishments, abilities, or appearance.

With the ongoing pandemic, students have turned to their devices to pass time, leading to social comparison on social media. According to a study from the Frontiers and Public Health Organization about 85% of university students have reported that their smartphone usage during the pandemic has greatly increased.

Lily Bigler, a senior communication major at CSULB takes social media with a grain of salt and realizes that it is just an entertainment platform and nothing more, addressing the constant fabrication of people’s lives through social media.

“This is just what people want to show you and it’s not really how people are, that this is just all the faces that we show and that face is just for entertainment on social media,” said Bigler.

Social media can be a negative space for college students, some may even need to spend some time off the internet and connect with others.

For further help and support, The Beach offers Student Life and Development services on campus, providing all kinds of different clubs and organizations where students can create genuine friendships and connections, according to Barraza.

Tips to reduce time on social media:

  • Set goals for when you can use your smartphones
  • Turn off your phones at certain times of the day
  • Don’t bring your phone or tablet to bed
  • Replace your smartphone use with healthier activities
  • Limit checks

“I would say make sure that you’re following people that you trust and know who you are prior to going on social media, don’t go on social media for fulfillment because you most likely you’re not going to get it,” Madeline Dressler, a third-year public relations major at CSULB said. “Go on there for inspiration or to learn new things as opposed to comparing yourself to other people.”

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