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As both a college student and member of Gen-Z, there are multiple times that I have considered quitting social media, but I knew that I would not follow through with my plan. There are two main reasons that I have considered quitting social media in the past. First, it is draining on my mental health. Seeing all of my peers’ (and influencers’) highlight reels can be a lot at times, especially when you are not having the best day yourself. Also, I feel that social media tends to push people to compare themselves, their net worth, appearance, life experiences, and just about anything you can post online. Due to this, I feel that if I am not careful social media can hurt my self-esteem and mental health. I am aware that it is not reality, that most of it is just smoke and mirrors, but I still fall into the trap of feeling like I am “less than” or “not good enough” more often than I would like to admit. A second reason I have considered quitting social media is that it is addicting. I can remember vividly during COVID (when there was not much to do) how I downloaded and deleted TikTok multiple times, as I just found it to be too addicting. Social media is almost like a wormhole, it sucks you in, keeps you distracted, and by the time you are sick of it you question how two hours just flew by. As a college student who also interns, runs a club, and wants to spend time with friends, social media can be a major distraction and stumbling block at times. For these two reasons, I have seriously considered quitting social media in the past. Social media not only keeps you distracted from your own life, but it may lead you to compare your life to the carefully crafted highlight reels that others post online.
Regardless of my hatred of some aspects of social media, I have decided to keep it in my life. The first reason I have done so is that if I deleted it, I would feel left out. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with my friends (especially those who are 2,000 miles away in Michigan). Social media is also an integral part of my generation’s experience. I enjoy seeing what my closest friends are up to (even though I see them daily). In short, it is fun and amazing to have the capability to share my life with others and to check in on my friends. I just need to be careful that I am not crafting an extremely “fake” narrative when I do so (and that I don’t fall into the trap of others’ fake narratives as well). If I decided to cut social media out of my life, I would be seen as a kind of “oddball” of my generation. I hardly know of anyone who is not on social media. Even if some of my friends don’t like it or spend a lot of time on it, they have a platform to stay connected with others. The second reason I have chosen to continue to keep social media in my life is because of the industry I want to go into. Since I am pursuing a career in marketing, it is essential that I understand social media platforms firsthand. Even when I was looking for internships this past year, most of them were companies hiring a TikTok intern. Older generations see our knowledge of these platforms as valuable, as they do not know how to operate these platforms themselves. If I decided to quit social media I would lack gaining first-hand experience of how to operate platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, skills that could benefit me in my future career. A third and final reason why I remain active on social media is that I see it as a great opportunity to record memories. I love the idea that in 5, 10, or 20+ years I will be able to look back on what I was doing in college and look through pictures of me and my friends. Social media is almost like a time capsule, and If I were to quit social media I would miss the chance to document my life with my friends and family in this unique way.
Overall, while social media has its pros and cons, I have decided many times in the past that the pros outweigh the cons. I just have to remember all the positives about social media, including its ability to keep me connected and help me remember great memories.
Darby Rynd, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Have you ever considered quitting social media? What do you think would happen if you did? The class covers copyright and social media. Darby is an Integrated Marketing Communications major.
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