In an age of social media, don’t forget who you are

How many followers do you have on Instagram? On Twitter? How many likes do you average per post? Be honest. I really want to know.


Modern society puts abundant attention onto social media. As an omnipresent entity, how much scrutiny has it really gotten? We have opened our hearts to this abstract technology without thinking twice about it.

It has crept its way into our world, leaving us forever changed as a species.

Maybe that last line was a tad dramatic, but if you mapped out your day, how many social media hours would you log?

Personally, I would probably hit several hours. I am an Instagram addict and not afraid to admit it. And honestly, I have not given much thought to how it might change my perception of life and who I am.

Recently, Instagram model Essena O’Neill veered away from the social media world, naming the fake life that comes with it and recognizing the depression that took her over.

“I was miserable,” said O’Neill in a video she released. “Stuck. Uninspired. Angry.”

Many users base their social media accounts around how many followers they have and how many likes their posts get.  O’Neill is one of many users to experience negative feelings associated with their plus 5,000 followers.

Why does this happen? If it happens to more than one user why are we still so addicted to social media?

Because we strive for acceptance. We want to belong.

When you post something, it feels like you are putting you heart on the line. It puts you in a weirdly vulnerable position that only finds validation through the amount of likes that tick up. We have a relationship with attention, and we all fall into it with our heads in the clouds.

So, is it good or bad? Are we all in a toxic relationship?

To an extent, yes.

Finding validation only through others is not a healthy practice. When asking thousands of people what they think about a selfie, it’s no wonder people tend to fabricate themselves.

“Sometimes people can get too obsessed with preserving a specific image and they’re not genuine,” Bryn Mawr College sophomore Joni Jeter, who has over 5k Twitter followers, told The Guilfordian via Facebook. “But people love a little vulnerability and a larger than life online personality who seems real.”

Whether this rings true or not, social media creates difficulty in drawing the line between real and fake. People make fake accounts all the time and use that persona to interact with others. We are and have been obsessed with hiding our true selves.

So where do we go from here? We could talk about social media and its implications on our lives for hours, but what will that change? It is an entity so engrained into our being and our culture, it helps define who we are.

In terms of moving forward, the most important thing is finding validity elsewhere.

Letting others validate who you are is like stepping on a rollercoaster you know will never end. You go through high and lows, experience whiplash, until eventually you get so dizzy you forget who you are

Don’t learn this lesson the hard way.

Validate yourself.