Over the second half of the semester in ENG 1103, I not only continued to participate in the activities from the first part of the semester, like playing scrabble, maintaining a WordPress blog, the Check, Please! assignments, and in-class writing assignments, but also wrote a creative essay project, completed a research paper, and kept up with limiting screen time in the classroom. The addition of the creative project and the research paper, along with limiting screen time, were all highlights for me in the second half of the semester. Each of these elements included different skills and demands in order to be achieved, and by completing each element, I learned a lot about myself and the process of completing these tasks. Whether it was the creative project and having to remember a childhood memory about reading and how it impacted me in the future, writing a research paper, and learning about my topic and all the databases and articles the High Point University library has to offer, or limiting the use of screens to better our brains and presentness with our classmates and professor. Every single aspect of the class is carefully designed and thought out to teach me new skills and knowledge. While there are many things I have learned just in the last half of the semester, the ones that have stuck with me the most are how limiting screen time and writing unique essay topics can really help me learn and grow as a writer and student.
The use of limited screen time throughout the entire semester benefited my mental health tremendously. As a teenager, I spend the majority of my day on electronics, whether it is my phone, watching TV, or doing homework on my computer. By the time the day has come to an end, I will have probably looked at screens for approximately twelve or more hours. Having that much screen time every day is damaging not only to your mental health but also to your eyes. I have started to notice that when I spend too much time on a screen during the day, my eyes start to hurt. Getting limited screen time or no screen time on Fridays allows me to relieve my eyes from the pain of a digital screen and focus more on what is going on in class. For example, most of the classwork we do on paper, like writing longhand when drafting essays, analyzing the work of other writers for example, Jonathan Kay’s Scrabble is a Lousy Game or Dr. Jane Lucas’ Left to Our Own Devices: One Teacher’s Meditations on Walden Zones for the Digital Age, and practice worksheets on integrating sources and in-text citations. Knowing that I can come to class and escape from the world of the Internet and look at physical paper copies of our classwork is very enjoyable and relaxing to me. According to research conducted at Barnsley College, “too much internet use or online gaming causes parts of the brain that govern empathy, planning, prioritizing, organization, and impulse control to shrink..too much exposure to the blue light emitted by digital devices can cause eye strain, headaches, as well as affecting your sleep patterns.” The fact that too much screen time can cause a lack of sleep, eye strain, and brain damage is all very concerning to me considering how much time I spend on a screen. Using a computer in class can sometimes distract me from what the professor is teaching because of all the easy distractions of texts and websites. By not using technology, I become solely focused on what is being taught in front of me. Being able to wake up three days a week and know that my professor will most likely not have us use technology to better our health and overall concentration in the classroom has been extremely valuable to my learning and growth in and out of the classroom.
Turning to my younger years of education and learning how to read and write, I had to reflect on the years in elementary school for my creative project. Thinking back to my younger self and all the mistakes and embarrassing things I did while trying to understand how to spell and comprehend new words made me realize how clumsy I was. Trying to remember one specific moment from my childhood to write about for my creative project was difficult because I had to think about how it had impacted me in the future, but after hours of brainstorming, I recalled the perfect instant. Going all the way back to fourth grade, participating in our school’s spelling bee was a comical and humiliating event all in one. Having to recall the time where me and my friends mistakenly went into a spelling bee and expected to win, and instead were the first ones out, was not something I wanted to relive. Having to reminisce and then write in my creative essay, “we were not only the first team out of the round and only knew the first three words, but no other team in our round had any strikes yet.” Taking that moment and analyzing if it had any effect on my personal self was difficult to process since I thoroughly embarrassed myself in front of my whole school and will have that memory haunt me forever. However, seeing that my creative essay stated that “my participation in the spelling bee had no effect on my writing ability, or reading” is relieving to know, considering how immediately after and nine years later, I can read and write without any trouble or impact from this event.
Another important essay that I wrote during the second half of the semester was the research paper. Before writing this one, I had only ever written three research papers in my whole school career, so I was very scared going into it. Finding a topic was the most difficult part, because even though my professor gave us guidelines for a theme, what to do with our lives in the digital world, there were still a lot of possibilities to write about. So, after learning about the HPU library databases, I narrowed my topic down, and not only picked a topic, but also got great articles to help back up my claim. While writing my research paper, I learned how “the self-esteem of young women is deteriorating every minute they are on social media because they see these beautiful edited bodies and faces of popular millennials and desire to look like them.” The pressure that social media users face to keep up with all the latest trends causes them to post fake versions of themselves. In addition, “the use of filters, Photoshop, and editing have become commonplace for most teens before they post a picture or send a snapchat.” Absorbing all this data and information while writing the research paper caused me to think multiple times about how social media has impacted me and if I have edited pictures or changed because of what I saw or wished I looked like. This paper opened my eyes to not only the number of problems that social media is causing among its users, especially girls, but how using the resources that are vitally available to you, like the library databases, can provide you with multiple pieces of evidence and articles for you to use and learn about. Through writing about this topic, I became very aware of a worldwide issue that needs to be addressed, and if it were not for the databases and their articles or the opportunity by my professor to write a research paper, I would not have gained so much knowledge about the world of social media and the influence it has on its users.As the second half of the semester in ENG 1103 comes to an end, I am enormously proud of how much I have learned and grown as a student. Through all of the writing assignments and challenges that occurred during the process, I, in more ways than one, have become a stronger writer and future student because of it. The impacts of limiting screen time in class, reminiscing about a childhood experience for the creative project, and my research paper about social media’s influence on its users were all key factors that played a significant role in the development of my writing during the second half of the semester. Overall, I am fortunate to have gathered life-long skills and techniques that I will carry with me into every future writing assignment and for the rest of my college career.
“Benefits of Reducing Your Screen Time.” Barnsley College, 22 June 2018,
Erininfantino. “The Embarrassing Spelling Bee.” Erin Infantino, 28 Oct. 2021,
Erininfantino. “Social Isolation and Insecurity among Teens.” Erin Infantino, 19 Nov. 2021,
Social Isolation and Insecurity Among Teens
Is Our Reading Brain in Jeopardy?
The new fast way of reading called “skimming” is how all students these days are reading for class, but although it is less time-consuming, is it really beneficial? In The Guardian column “Skim Reading is the New Normal,” by Maryanne Wolf, Ziming Liu from San Jose State University concludes that the “new norm” for reading these days is word spotting and browsing through text. The use of this type of reading allows the reader to quickly read and get the general idea of what they are reading without actually reading the whole text. Even though “skimming” is a fast form of reading, there are many downsides to be considered. According to Ziming Liu, “when the reading brain skims, it reduces time allocated to deep reading processes…we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings…and to create thoughts of the reader’s own,” (Wolf). By “skimming,” we are hurting and damaging our brain because we are not actually reading and analyzing the text. So what is the point in reading if we are just going to “skim” and not get all that we can out of the text?
Younger generations of people are adapting to reading like everyone else, but they are doing it their way. Instead of picking up a book and reading for fun, teenagers and young adults are avoiding reading altogether. Reports have shown that many college students avoid class literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries because they do not have the patience to read longer and more difficult texts. They do not want to spend the time to read and analyze dense and difficult text and since their skimming method will not be of much use to them with this type of text, they just avoid the classes altogether. People these days are always on their phones and want stuff done fast which is why they have turned to skimming and digital reading. Based on research collected, digital reading is almost more harmful to the brain than skimming. Psychologist Anne Mangen conducted a study on high school students where half would read Jenny, Mon Amour on a kindle and the other half would read it in paperback. Not surprisingly, the students who read it in print were superior in their comprehension, ability to sequence detail, and reconstruct the plot in chronological order. This shows how even if we adapt to our environment and read on devices that we always have with us, we still could be damaging our brains.
The adaptation of technology over the past ten years has caused us to become a digital culture. A culture where we have begun to read on any medium available to us: phones, laptops, kindles, nooks, and Ipads. The impact these types of devices are having on our reading is catastrophic and it not only changes what we read, but the purpose of why we read. These new improvements and inventions have without a doubt changed society for the better, but in the process, a daily skill we use every day is suffering. Maryanne Wolf, professor of education at UCLA, author of the article notes that, “critical analysis, empathy, and other deep reading processes could become the unintended collateral damage of our digital culture,” (Wolf). We have already started to see how the effects of digital reading can appear as early as fourth and fifth grade. To think about something so simple as the format you read on having such a significant influence on your health and overall brain development, particularly in such young children, is an alert that what is currently happening needs to terminate. The current effects of digital reading on younger children has many people worried about the future of society’s reading ability.
These problems need to be fixed and the only way to fix them is by creating a “bi-literate” reading brain. The reading brain enables the development of our most important intellectual processes, like analogical reasoning and critical analysis, which is why there is so much concern over the destruction we are causing to it. A “bi-literate” reading brain will adapt to the new world and still allow the development of our intellectual process and comprehension of what we are reading. A reading brain capable of deep forms of thought in either digital or traditional means. I think a way that this could be resolved is by doing a combination of digital and print reading. This would allow for the brain to still get the traditional method of reading and the results of comprehension, critical analysis, and internalized knowledge, with the convenience of technology. There needs to be a balance between stabilizing the reading brain and adapting with technological advancements and this method could just be the answer. According to Maryanne Wolf, a “bi-literate” reading brain is achievable because, “we possess both the science and technology to identify and redress the changes in how we read,” (Wolf). Our reading circuit can adapt and develop, but we need to give it an environment to adapt in because once we give it that, the reading circuit will adapt to society’s new requirements and demands. Creating this new environment will generate, “if the dominant medium advantages processes that are fast…and well suited for large volumes of information, like current digital medium, so will the reading circuit,” (Wolf). Our current digital medium has so many capabilities, and if we can reinvent our digital medium to form with society’s new way of life, there is no reason why over time we can not remold our reading circuit too.
These ideas, written by Maryanne Wolf, state that a new reading circuit can be achieved with the right environment and conditions. “If we work to understand exactly what we will lose, alongside the extraordinary new capabilities that the digital world has brought us, there is as much reason for excitement as caution,” (Wolf). Finding a solution to this obstacle is vitally important because we will either use our reading brain or lose it. We need to identify and address the changes in how we read before they are gone forever.
Wolf, Maryanne. “Skim Reading is the New Normal.” The Guardian, 25 Aug.
Gaining New Techniques in Unexpected Ways
Each day as I walk into the classroom throughout this semester, I have participated in many different types of writing and analysis assignments thoughtfully prepared by my professor. Whether it was Check, Please!, writing and creating a WordPress blog, reading and examining articles about skim reading, the toxicity of Facebook, and blog vs terms papers, too, learning new techniques about writing longhand, and planning and drafting your assignment before you revise it. All of these different activities my professor has given me have contained the goal of allowing me to learn something new or gain a new writing technique. Each assignment is carefully crafted for me to think more critically or analyze a piece of writing. Although I might not see it now, I have definitely learned some new techniques I will carry with me for years to come. The most significant pieces of work that I feel have impacted me the most so far as a writer and critical thinker, are completing the Check, Please! assignments, sideshadowing my analysis essay, and the importance of Wordplay Days.
The goal of the Check, Please! assignments is to learn how to determine if a source is reliable, and by completing each lesson individually, I have learned so much about the importance of finding reliable sources as well as the four-step process that will allow me to get there. Each lesson in the course teaches you in depth about each of the four steps of the process: (1) “Stop,” (2) “Investigate,” (3) “Find better coverage,” and (4) “Trace claims, quotes, and media to the original text.” According to Mike Caulfield, author of the Check, Please!, Starter Course states that “it’s about getting the necessary context to read, view, or listen effectively. And doing that first,” (Caulfield). This course is all about receiving the right information, and by going through each step I will only get trustworthy knowledge from websites. Every lesson not only teaches you about each step, but also other techniques you can use to become more educated about different sources and strategies to decide if a source is fake. Without exception, each lesson has taught me numerous new strategies to determine reliable sources. Nevertheless, there are definitely some techniques I have learned that have stood out to me and will be beneficial in my life as a writer and social media user. In lesson one, the “claim check” method for detecting if a social media post or website publication is fake is very helpful. Knowing that I can copy and paste the headline of any post into a web browser to reveal the other organizations that have reported on the same story will allow me to more factually indicate if the Instagram or Facebook post I am looking at is fake or not. Then, in lesson two, the web technique “just add Wikipedia” for figuring out where the information you are reading is from. This technique, I believe, will allow me to cut down the time I spend on trying to determine if a site is trustworthy because I can verify the facts on the website by typing the website domain plus Wikipedia into the search box and clicking on the Wikipedia page. Finally, in lesson four, the reverse image search to see if a photo is fake or not. The internet is full of photoshopped and modified photos, so being able to realize if a photo I am looking at is fake by right-clicking and hitting “search Google image” will give me the ability to recognize fake photos from real ones. Even though I just highlighted a few of the techniques I have learned through doing the Check, Please! assignments, I have noticed that even within this short period of time I have already started implementing these new techniques I have learned into my daily life. Knowing that I have pertained multiple new fact-checking strategies makes me very confident that everything I read and see from here on out will be factual and trustworthy.
The process of sideshadowing your own writing is a new concept for me, because I have never critiqued my own essays after I have submitted them to my teacher. I thought it was kind of interesting that after I got a grade on an essay I would go back and look for things I did well on or should improve on for next time. However, reflecting on it now, it has become very useful. Reading my essay and finding answers to four specific questions for each paragraph really allowed me to analyze my own writing and think about what I did well and could have done better. Doing this not only gave me the opportunity to recognize my strengths, but also highlight my weaknesses and what I could do better in future essays. For example, Maryanne Wolf, author of “Skim Reading is the New Normal” says in her article, “a ‘bi-literate’ reading brain is achievable because we possess both the science and technology to identify and redress the changes in how we read,” (Wolf). After sideshadowing the paragraph with this quote, I noticed how I would like to explore more about our reading circuit and how this new one will not be damaged over time like our current one. In addition, I realized that throughout my essay I repeat the same information multiple times, so I know it is something I need to be more cautious of. Analyzing past essays by sideshadowing and really critiquing the writing has without a doubt benefited me in knowing my strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
Hearing for the first time from my teacher that every Friday we would be playing scrabble was very surprising to me because I never would have thought that I would ever be playing a board game in a college writing class. Although in the beginning, I expected it to be a fun way to spend my morning on Friday where I would not have to do anything, it soon became more than just a silly game. During the last seven Wordplay Days, I have not only challenged my mind but also expanded my vocabulary. It is crazy to think how hard it really is to come up with just one word when you have seven different letters in front of you. Nonetheless, past experiences have taught me that if you have too many vowels or not enough, building a word can be difficult. If I am ever in a tight position where I can not build a word, the trusty letter s almost always saves me because adding s to the end of most words creates a whole new word. Some of the simplest words I have created are: dog, shoe, lion, floor, and dollar, while the most difficult words that required a lot of thought from my partner or me were: Dior, pancake, laundry, and spade. Each of these words requires scrambling and unscrambling of letters to make a word that will not only work with my letters but also the board. Throughout playing, I have recognized how my vocabulary of words has increased because my team or my opponent’s team have used words that I either did not know were words or words I would have never thought of. Even in fun word games like Scrabble, there can be a learning and educational aspect because never would I have ever thought that playing Scrabble for seventy minutes every Friday would expand my vocabulary, but in reality, it has.
Contemplating all the assignments and analyzing I have done during the semester so far, I know I have gained so much knowledge that will benefit me tremendously with my writing and daily life. Whether it is expanding my vocabulary through Scrabble, making sure my articles and photos are factual and real, or analyzing past essays so I do not make the same mistakes in the future, I have gained so much insight into different writing strategies and techniques. I hope in the future to take these new techniques I have learned and use them in future writing assignments and everyday life to not only enhance my writing skills, but also my factual knowledge and vocabulary.
Caulfield, Mike. Check, Please! Starter Course, 2021,
Wolf, Maryanne. “Skim Reading is the New Normal.” The Guardian, 25 Aug.
The Embarrassing Spelling Bee
When I was in fourth grade, my two friends and I decided that we wanted to make a team and enter our school’s spelling bee competition. We decided as our costume to be queen bees, and consequently, our team name was the Queen Bee. All three of us were so excited when we arrived, but since there were so many teams, we had to wait for our specific round of the contest to occur. Finally, in what felt like an hour, but in reality was twenty minutes, we walked onstage, got our writing materials, and sat at our designated table. When the competition began, we were all very confident that we would make it to the second or third round, but boy were we wrong. Once the rules were explained, they gave us our first word and we spelled it perfectly. However, after the third word, things started to fall apart. When the fourth word was presented, none of us knew how to spell it, so we got it wrong and got a strike. You received a strike when you spelled a word wrong, and once you got three strikes, you were out. Sadly, the next two words we spelled incorrectly as well, so we received our second and third strike and were out of the competition. After realizing we were not only the first team out of the round and only knew the first three words, but no other team in our round had any strikes yet. This caused us to burst out laughing at each other because our expectations of how this spelling bee was going to go were a lot different than what actually happened.
Reflecting on this now, I am still embarrassed to this day about how my one and only spelling bee experience occurred. Although, during and immediately after the competition, I felt embarrassed about how badly my friends and I performed, in the end, we all had fun. The spelling bee was supposed to be a fun competition, and even if we did not win, we still enjoyed making our costumes, hanging out with friends, and being involved. My participation in the spelling bee had no effect on my future life, writing ability, or reading, but did, however, implant a comical and humiliating childhood memory into my head.
Fifth Check, Please!
In the fifth lesson of the Check, Please!, Starter Course, Mike Caulfield, author of the course and Director of Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University, informs the reader about the last step in the SIFT process, tracing claims, quotes, and media to their original context. It is important to know that most things you see on the internet are not original reporting or research. Instead, it is a re-reporting of a re-reporting, and by the time you find the story on the internet, it has been altered so much that it presents a false piece of research. The further a rumor travels from its source, the more altered it becomes, and the three step process a rumor undergoes to get altered is: (1) “leveling,” (2) “sharpening,” and (3) “assimilation.”
The most useful practice included in lesson five is learning how to find the original reporting of a photo or story. Being able to trace back an article to its original publication will give me the ability to know that what I am reading is verified and true. The internet is full of fake articles and facts because people will take an article and republish it for themselves, which can sometimes lead to misleading information or loss of facts. Normally, by the time you find a story on the internet, it has been changed many different times, creating a radically false version of a piece of research. Most of the time, the author of the post you are reading did no research, fact-checking, or original reporting and instead barely skimmed the original story and only took the information they wanted from the article. This causes them to mislead their readers or get their research wrong. To avoid this occurrence, I can follow some simple steps to find the primary research source or a high quality secondary source that did the hard work of verifying its facts. The process to find an original article is to go to the article you found and in that article find another source that they cite or mention. Next, do the Wikipedia trick with that new site. From there, you will be able to see if the original site or site that is mentioned is reliable, and if it is, then you can trust the information you are reading. The purpose of this technique is to find the source where the people doing the writing are also verifying the facts. Knowing that the longer a story is on the internet, the more inaccurate it could be, worries me about all the false information that I could read. By having the knowledge of how to find the original reporting, I can always make sure that I am reading factual articles and research.
An interesting piece of information from lesson five is that depending on the type of person you are, the retelling of a story can actually make it better. The more a story is retold, the more concise, engaging, and geared toward its audience it becomes. Whenever you retell a story, you normally condense what you hear and provide a shorter version, but being a careful vs. careless story teller will affect how factual your story appears. A careful storyteller will probably forget the irrelevant details and only remember the most significant and important ones, so when they retell it, they provide a shorter, customized version. This is why many people enjoy getting news from social media, because it is way more efficient than reading a long news story since they only recall the pieces that matter to them. Although this process is good for some, others who are neglectful, guided by strong bias, or are motivated to distort the truth for their own benefit, will disclose false claims and unfactual information. The retelling of a story can have its pros and cons. As long as the person telling the story is conscious of all the facts, and is factual in what they are saying, the story will be liked and admired by the reader.
Social Isolation and Insecurity Among Teens
Social media has become a crazed obsession among teens and young adults around the world, whether it is Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Each of these platforms gives its users the ability to post pictures, comment, like pictures, and see into the lives of their friends, family, and random strangers. Having all of this at a teen’s fingertips allows them to connect with people in a way that was not possible before, and although social media has many benefits, like communicating with long-distance friends, watching makeup videos, or shopping, all of these harmless actions actually cause more stress and anxiety than happiness. Over the past ten years, social media has taken a turn and is making teens feel worse about themselves because of the way they look, what they wear, or the lifestyle they live. Social media hardly reflects a person’s reality because of how edited and fake it can be, but since teens see the picture and want to look exactly like them, they become insecure about themselves. The same goes for just scrolling through and seeing everyone’s posts and the cool places they are or the friends they are hanging out with. This causes social isolation among teens because they feel like they are not being included and are lame compared to others. The toxic effects of social media will be different for each teen who uses it. What I do not understand is, why do teens and young adults use social media if it makes them feel socially isolated and insecure about the way they look?
Scrolling through any social media platform, you will see people living extravagant lives, going to exotic places, and hanging out with their friends, and even though all of these are just harmful acts of people sharing their lives on the internet, they can have damaging effects on teens. Social comparison is one of the biggest outcomes of social media use, and through an interview with Shankar Vedantam by NPR Morning Edition, we learn how social media causes social isolation and increased comparison to others. Rachel Leonard was a twenty-year-old who was an active social media user, and even though she shared happy pictures of her life on Facebook, in reality, she was sad and depressed. The more unhappy Rachel felt, the more she posted, and while she was posting, she would scroll through and compare her happiness with others. Rachel was posting one thing and feeling another, which Leonard describes as “curating your life, just these very specific moments, the best of the best that you’re putting up there.” Cultivation had a negative effect on Rachel, but a study showed that spending time on Facebook increases our feelings of social comparison. At Tel Aviv University, Ohad Barzilay did a study that found using Facebook makes you more comparative. “You compare yourself to others more often, you judge yourself, you compare am I better or worse than my friends? Am I happier? Are they happier? And so on.” Social comparison decreases one’s happiness, and that is exactly what happened to Rachel when she compared her life to her friends. In addition, the fear of FOMO, or fear of missing out, was studied by Barbara Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. She observed that “seeing our friends having fun on social media taps into our social anxiety about belonging to the group… and it’s really more about what are your friends doing in building up their social group history that you’re missing out on?” Worrying more about the fear of missing out can actually lead you to miss out because you are so concerned with what your friends are doing that you cannot enjoy what you are doing in the present.
The use of filters, Photoshop, and editing have become commonplace for most teens before they post a picture or send a Snapchat. Filters range from effects that cover up blemishes, change your eye color and increase the size of your lips, to apps that allow individuals to alter their body shape to appear slimmer in pictures. Izzy Lyons, who wrote One Third of Girls Won’t Post Selfie Without Editing It, Research Finds, from Telegraph.Co notes, “one third of young girls will not post a photo selfie on social media without editing it, as they say adverts pressure them into changing their appearance.” The toxic culture that is created through all the editing leads teens into a constant, warped, version of other realities. Since they want to get the most likes and comments on their posts as possible, they have to make themselves look the best they can. A survey by Girlguiding found that “around half of girls and young women in the UK regularly alter their photos to ‘find acceptance’ online.” Social media culture has allowed teens to form the idea that their self-worth is measured in likes and comments on a photo, and although that is not true, it is how teens think. This thought process that teens have now embedded into their brains makes them more likely to delete pictures that do not get enough attention or receive too few likes. While in the beginning, the use of filters on photos was a careless thing, it has now evolved into teen girls wanting to alter their bodies and the way they look. The charity, which surveyed 1,473 females, found, “seventy-five percent [of the participants] would like to see cosmetic procedures, such as lip fillers and Botox.” Women are upset that they cannot look the same in real life as they do online, with the fear that others will criticize their bodies, which in turn stops them from having their pictures taken. The influencer culture, where famous millennials are paid to post adverts online, is one of the most damaging phenomena to emerge from social media because teen girls see their bodies and want to look like them, when in fact, their pictures are heavily edited. Phoebe Kent, from Reading, notes, “so many people have just ended up coming off social media because they can’t deal with the detrimental impact on their confidence and wellbeing. It’s definitely impacting mental health for so many girls and young women.” The self-esteem of young women is deteriorating every minute they are on social media because they see these beautiful edited bodies and faces of popular millennials and desire to look like them. One participant in the charity survey stated, from her own experience, “I find it hard to go through Instagram because everyone looks perfect and it lowers my self-confidence.”
The amount of pressure that young teens face to look a certain way on social media is absolutely astounding, and the fact that society has not only enabled this to occur but has in a way supported it through the addition of new filters and editing apps is shocking. Girls should not feel like they can not post a picture without it being edited or not even post a picture at all because of the way they look. Every person should feel beautiful just the way they are, and the fact that they feel ugly or not pretty enough in their natural skin because of the face-tuned and edited photos on Instagram is sad to hear. From personal experience, I know so many friends that have to edit their photos before they post them, and while the edited photo may make them feel good about themselves, it could also tear someone else down. I almost never edit my photos or use filters before I post them because I think that natural beauty is just as beautiful and if I do not get as many likes since the photo is not entirely perfect or does not look as good as I could make it with editing, I still keep the photo up on my feed since it makes me happy.
Mental health issues are also a huge cause of social media use. Whether it is eating disorders, depression, anxiety, or “Snapchat dysmorphia,” the increase in mental health problems among teens is skyrocketing. “Social media exposes young people to a flood of images to judge themselves against models with non-existent waistlines or celebrities sipping fad diet smoothies. But images on social media are hardly reflective of reality” (qtd. in Zimmerman). The toxic culture of unrealistic expectations and comparisons that users feel on a daily basis is a troubling problem that needs to be stopped. The pressure that users face to keep up with all the latest trends eventually takes a toll on their mental health. Alison Zimmerman wrote in Washington Square News that “eating disorders are on the rise all around the globe… depression and anxiety have also increased with digital and social culture bent on perfectionism and idealism.” Teenagers are taking the need to look perfect on social media so far that they are putting their health in jeopardy just for the extra likes and comments. A recent study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, found a “‘consistent and direct link’ between posting edited photos on Instagram and eating disorder risk factors.” Most people think that posting edited photos is harmless, but in reality, it increases the risk of eating disorders. Research conducted by Pamela Keel, a professor at Florida State University, reveals that “posting a picture, edited or not, caused people to feel more concerned about their weight and shape. They also saw that the combination of editing and posting the photo was associated with an even more significant increase in those concerns.” When someone decides to edit a photo, they are doing themselves a disservice because, instead of allowing others to decrease their mental health, they are doing it to themselves.
In addition to mental issues, plastic surgeons have also recently reported the emergence of “Snapchat dysmorphia,” which is when people alter their appearance to look like themselves with a Snapchat filter. In a CNN article by Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman, she writes, “Previous research has already pointed to links between using social media and increased body dissatisfaction.” This shows how the use of social media is a cause of teen girls’ wanting to physically change their bodies to look like a fake version of themselves. All of these illnesses are caused by a single goal: trying to alter your appearance to look like the unrealistic woman on social media. The reality we have created where it is ok for people to post immensely edited photos of themselves so others cannot see their true reflection is very concerning. Girls and young teens should be able to go on Instagram or Snapchat and only see natural photos of people and not have to worry about what they look like.
For many users, social media has been doing more harm than good. It allows people to measure their self-worth in likes, allows too much comparison to others, and gives us too much time trapped in a world of unachievable, if not unhealthy, body expectations. It has caused teens to feel insecure in their own bodies and socially isolated from their friends. Social media is not going away anytime soon, but the mental health consequences are too grave for the culture to continue unchanged. It is time for body positivity to take over our feeds and for the use of filters and Photoshop to be extinct.
Why Social Media Isn’t always very Social. , 2017. SIRS Issues Researcher,
Lyons, Izzy. “One Third of Girls Won’t Post Selfie without Editing it.” Telegraph.co.uk,
26 Aug 2020. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://libproxy.highpoint.edu/login?
Zimmerman, Alison. “Social Media: The Enemy of Body Positivity.” University Wire, 15
May 2018. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://libproxy.highpoint.edu/login?
Giuliani-Hoffman, Francesca. “Posting Edited Selfies on Social Media may make You
More at Risk..” CNN Wire Service, 07 May 2020. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://libproxy.highpoint.edu/login?