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Social media perfection poses danger to wellbeing

Graphic by Zoe Karibian
Social media can encourage the feeling that we should only display our best moments. Unrealistic social media standards can be harmful to our well-being as it prompts adolescents to compare appearances and feel dissatisfied about our experiences.

On a typical summer morning, I found myself groggily scrolling through Instagram, only to be confronted with a stream of flawless photos shared by my friends. Their beautiful beaches, breathtaking landscapes and carefree adventures stood in contrast to my own reality: lying in bed with messy hair. Immediately, I was filled with discontent. It’s a scene familiar to many teenagers in today’s digital age where the allure of presenting an idealized version of our lives is becoming increasingly pervasive.

The rise of social media platforms such as Instagram has undoubtedly shaped how we perceive and interact with each other. The stream of picture-perfect moments not only sets unattainable standards, but can also evoke envy, feelings of inadequacy and a nagging fear of missing out.

For the sake of our well-being, we must recognize that what we see on social media is often a carefully curated facade. Rather than surrendering ourselves to a culture of comparison, it is time to rediscover the real essence of summer. This means embracing imperfections and cherishing the unfiltered experiences that truly define the season.

Research consistently affirms that social media use can have negative effects on one’s emotional well-being. According to a study by McLean Hospital, social media platforms such as Instagram contribute to self-esteem issues, anxiety and a distorted sense of reality. 

I’ve experienced the discontent that comes with comparing myself to others on social media on numerous occasions. Notably, while staying in rainy London this past summer, I couldn’t resist the temptation to look at my Instagram feed. Upon opening the app, I was instantly bombarded by vibrant photos. While it was initially intriguing to see what my friends had been up to, as I continued to scroll, an unsettling feeling sank into my stomach. Insecurity and jealousy gradually took hold as I couldn’t help but compare their seemingly flawless photos to my own. I found myself questioning the worth of my own experiences.

Moreover, the pressure to present an ideal image on social media hinders authenticity. I remember a few years ago, my sister and I sat on the living room floor, scrolling through our camera rolls for the “perfect” photo. With my friend’s most recent summer post still vivid in my memory, the pressure to select my finest photos surfaced. As we looked through our photos of the recent trip, I began to judge myself harshly. I scrutinized my appearance, focusing on every little flaw and imperfection. The meticulously curated photos of others, capturing only their best moments, had unknowingly influenced me to view myself more critically. As my self-judgment and overanalysis continued, the more hesitant I became to share them with the world. 

Graphic by by zoe_karibian

My sister, on the other hand, seemed to have a completely different perspective. She selected photos without the slightest care, focusing more on the memories associated with pictures than her appearance. Her choices included candid shots of us laughing uncontrollably, despite a clear view of our messy hair and sunburned noses. She didn’t seem to mind if her posture was a little awkward or if her outfit wasn’t perfectly coordinated. 

Feeling a mixture of admiration and curiosity, I asked her, “You’re really going to post that?” My tone carried a hint of judgment, questioning why she would willingly share something imperfect. She paused for a moment. Then, her eyes met mine with a gentle smile. “Why not?” she replied.

Her question struck a chord within me. Instagram became a platform where people only showcase their best selves, and I was playing into the same superficial facade by carefully curating highlights and filtering out authenticity. 

While Instagram can be a convenient way to catch up with friends’ activities, it creates barriers that hinder vulnerability and true friendship. Dr. Mattke at Mayo Clinic said that teenagers are becoming passive engagers. When we observe others’ Instagram, we are missing out on social connection.

As we navigate social media, let’s prioritize authenticity over comparison. Let’s free ourselves from the pressure of posting perfect summers, and embrace the imperfections that only enhance the beauty of our true selves.

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About the Contributor
Zoe Karibian, Media Team
Zoe Karibian ('26) is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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