Why Social Media induces pressure in young people
Social Media. The force that is everywhere. If you’re not on it, you’re left alone and isolated. If you have it, there’s constant unspoken rivalry and competition to post regularly and appear as though you’re having the best time of your life. This innate competition creates unrealistic expectations of life, increasing tiredness, stress and alienation.
Consequently, there is increasing pressure on young people, especially university students, to showcase unrealistic lives and create false personas.
Dr Dominique Thompson
Dr Thompson is a GP and young people’s mental health expert. Dr Thompson notes the constant pressures that arise from the ‘performative nature’ of social media.
Dr Thompson continues by commenting:
‘So often described as ‘the best years of your life’, the pressure to be seen to be making the most of your university experience, especially for freshers, can lead to students making harmful or negative comparisons between their lives and the lives of other students they see online.
After a year of social isolation for many there is huge potential for these feelings to be sharper than ever come September.’
As a result of the ongoing pandemic, there was a huge surge and use of social media. Consequently, this surge of social media usage resulted in excessive tiredness and increase stress levels from young people, according to Dr Thompson.
University students and young people felt and feel pressure to constantly post about their lives and how much fun they’re having.
These constant posts create façades and fake attitudes, ultimately giving the wrong impressions to those coming to university soon. Therefore, these constant, fake posts give repetitive unrealistic expectations about university, and university life.
In response, to the increasing pressure created, Dr Thompson has published a student well-being guide series for building better mental health at university.
This series (widely available to buy and at a pretty cheap cost) covers various, significant topics that are essential to university students.
These topics include the timeline leading up to university, leaving home, freshers’ week, the first term and returning home. Dr Thompson covers more difficult conversation topics such as socializing, safety, sex and substances.
Additionally, Dr Thompson has called on universities that rely on students using social to communicate with staff to support their mental health.
Moreover, Dr Thompson has called out universities for addressing the problem of screen burnout and to encourage more activities offline, given the induced stress of online learning.
My advice to incoming freshers: do your research, do the work, and stay true to yourself. Don’t try to fit in by pretending to be someone else. If you’re feeling particularly anxious and worried, I’d recommend Dr Thompson’s series which will provide comfort.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember, especially during the pandemic, people only post content that they want you to see. Don’t get too caught up or worried about how you present yourself on social media or how others present themselves: it’s not the real world, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.