Name: Kajal Patel
From: Miramar, Florida
Please “Like” This
As a nation, we are dealing with an addiction to “likes”. Today more content than ever before is being uploaded onto social media. As you read this sentence, someone somewhere is going viral while someone else is drowning in self-doubt over their post. Today we have more insecure people than ever and their insecurities will continue to grow because we don’t have the means to stop them. On those apps, pretty sells and sex sells and if you can’t meet those standards, you won’t sell.
Social media requires us to present ourselves to the world through photography and videography. And if we’re going to present ourselves, might as well look our best, right? But how do we know if we’re looking good enough? Therein lies our problem. We take selfies. We love seeing ourselves, we love presenting ourselves, we peacock. We are obsessed with “likes”, comments, and shares. We want approval. Each others’ approval, strangers’ approval. Only our own approvals are not needed. Today the average social media user can buy numerous apps that can change their face and bodies to look however they want to look. They can be taller, skinner, more contoured, more tan. Nothing is off the table. Looking like yourself is no longer a requirement. So if you don’t have to look like yourself, might as well create the most idealized version of yourself, right? These apps are unregulated. From young children to young-at-heart seniors, everyone is able to identify problem spots on their bodies and give them a quick fix.
But what happens when we shift our eyes from our phones to mirrors? We are forced to confront reality. That perfect image is no longer what you see. What you see is a real human. And it’s not good enough anymore, right? There are numerous unregulated solutions that social media apps and influencers sell us. Diet pills, vitamins, stomach flattening teas, and everyone else that the most perfect looking people sell. They say they’re able to get all those “likes” with their products and encourage you to try them too. It doesn’t matter if they’re safe or not or work or not, it matters that they give you the hope of looking like that perfect image on your social media in real life as well.
This addiction to chasing “likes” is causing numerous adverse effects. We are seeing an increased in disordered eating, diet gimmicks purchasing, and insecurities. Younger and younger people are getting invasive plastic surgeries and subscribing to every celebrity tip and trick out there in order to create the most idealized body that they can. Everything is increasing, only our discernment of reality is going down. The lines between reality and imagery are too blurred.
Social media is a relatively new invention. We are the first generation to be its target audience. As social media companies attempt to determine how they want to present themselves, we serve as their test dummies. The companies are evolving and starting to recognize the harm they are causing. They are trying to change. Now it’s our time to demand more change. Those businesses already have our attention with what they are presenting but we should show them how they can keep it longer. We as a society must show them through lobbying and body positivity activism that we want to be more conscious consumers. We are constantly bombarded with perfect images of perfect people causing us to doubt our imperfect selves in our imperfect lives. But if corporations are willing to label altered images as such, there might just be some hope. Impressionable people of all ages will be able to definitively discern for themselves that they are being fed a lie. They will no longer look at the fake as the real and will learn to accept the real as real.