The latest exploration of why social media may not be so great after all.
Examining her extensive series of face-to-face and online interviews of college students, Freitas (The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy, 2013, etc.) discovered “one unifying and central theme [that] emerged as the most pressing social media issue students face: the importance of appearing happy.” She emphasizes ‘appearing’ because what she realized is that while students today are often extremely unhappy, they feel an intense pressure to show only the good, successful, fun, happy experiences of their lives on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Knowing that everyone—friends, peers, parents, teachers, potential employers, and even complete strangers—is likely to view their profiles forces people of all ages, but particularly those in high school and college, to project an upbeat appearance, regardless of how they feel inside. Though extremely stressed by this pressure, they are diligent in monitoring their posts, going so far as to separate their contacts into specific groups that receive exclusive posts, posting only at certain times of day when they are certain to receive the most ‘likes,’ and cleaning up old posts that may portray a younger, less mature person than who they are now. Each social media user understands that his or her name is now a brand, a concept that must be protected and yet projected as successful and, above all, happy. Freitas interweaves her research into personal stories from many of the interviewees, providing readers with a rich assortment of relatable tales that stress just how addicted people are to their social media profiles. The author ends with several methods that will help readers unplug and relax, creating an opening for true happiness to set in.
Attention-grabbing research that amply shows the many detriments of social media, particularly for young adults.