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Patel: The unpleasant side effects of social media

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Patel: The unpleasant side effects of social media

Meera Patel, Columnist

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Here’s the problem I have with Facebook: In the end does it really matter how many “likes” you get on a picture or how many Facebook friends you have? Do you feel better keeping tabs on all those people from high school you secretly (or not-so-secretly, in some cases) despised? Or do you want to find out that your friends are dating people from a post you see on a computer screen?

On Facebook, you’re going to see everyone’s highlight reels. You’re going to see the top posts from the most exciting events in their lives or the wittiest things they have to say posted as their statuses.

You’re not going to feel better after you see all these posts and compare your life to them. You alone know all the stuff that happens in your own life: the ups, the downs and the in-betweens. There’s no use thinking about your life in comparison to someone else’s social media life You’re not going to feel very good after doing that.

My sister doesn’t have a Facebook profile. I used to wonder how she got by and how she kept up with her friends or our extended family. But I think she has the right idea. She keeps in touch with the people who really matter to her whether it’s through phone or email or some medium that doesn’t require seeing random details about someone’s personal life.

I have a friend who really cares about how many likes he gets on his posts or how many likes other people get on theirs. I told him likes don’t really matter. He agreed, but he still talked about them. In contrast, I have another friend who told me he thought Facebook was stupid, and that’s why he has one but rarely goes on it. He pulled up his News Feed and showed it to me, pointing out how inconsequential some posts were, without mentioning how many likes any of them got. Though they had different attitudes toward Facebook, both of them were passing judgment on other people based on their social media posts.

That is the nature of social media. It’s something that’s become such an integral part of our culture these days, yet it has a negative impact on self-esteem and the way we think about other people. We’ve moved dating online, our conversations to websites and our music to Spotify and Facebook. Yet, we haven’t done anything about the negative effects of social media on our generation. We don’t talk about how much more people compare themselves to others because of social media.

I know that I would feel better if I deactivated my Facebook. But I can’t. Most people are on social media, and I need to manage groups and see what people post as part of an organization, contact people when my phone breaks and make, publicize or hear about events. Quite honestly, I don’t really want to lose the playlists on my Spotify account that’s linked to my Facebook account.

All I am saying is we need to think a little more about our social media dependencies and how much stock we put into Facebook profiles. As for me, I’m trying to cut back on my social media use. We’ll see how far this takes me.

Meera Patel is a McCormick junior. She can be reached at meera@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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