Social Media is Harmful to Humans


Illustration by Faith Okoli, The Runner

Lilliawna Shaffer, Staff Writer

  Social media is a highlight reel of our happiest moments, half of which are construed to look better than the moment itself.  

  Easy access to editing programs caused millions of people to compare their lives to the fake lives they see on platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.  

   Sensitive issues like self-esteem, body image, and mental health are being challenged by the incessant hours we spend scrolling on social media.  

   We scroll endlessly looking at “perfect” pictures of the people who seem to have “perfect” lives.  

   Their pictures are photoshopped to have smaller waists, flawless skin, smaller stomachs, less arm fat, whiter teeth, and bigger butts. Because of society’s reinforcement of this image being ideal, this idea is displayed on a loop in the minds of people to the point that they believe they must have this body type, even though it is nothing but photoshop. 

   My bikini post was taken hours before I looked in the mirror sideways, sucked in my tummy, then cried the second I let it out because “it’s too big.”  

   An Illinois State University article suggests that “Social media can then hurt your body image by constantly exposing yourself to the ideal body type, leading to constant comparison of yourself to unrealistic standards.”  

   These pictures are telling part of a story that aren’t always as happy as the fake smiles and laughter in the photo. They are sad attempts at trying to convince the world that our lives are better than they actually are.  

   Some of my happiest looking pictures are the ones taken hours before I spent countless nights crying myself to sleep because I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed to make it to work that morning. describes how “we’re all aware that other people tend to share just the highlights of their lives, rarely the low points that everyone experiences” in an article that talks about how social media use and mental health correspond.  

  I’ve spent years resisting the urge to edit my body in photos, but that doesn’t mean some of my pictures are any more real than those who chose to edit their photos.  

   I’ve posted some of my happiest looking pictures during some of my darkest times. I get comments like “you’re glowing” and “living your best life” but that couldn’t be further than the truth.  

   About a month ago, I decided to take a break from Instagram and TikTok because the two became too toxic and overwhelming for me.  

   I spent over 8 hours every day not enjoying social media, but also not being able to stop scrolling because I felt the need to compare my sad life to those who looked like they were so much happier.  

   While doing this I came across other people who scrolled aimlessly comparing their bodies to other’s. This is when I had the realization that the girl’s I was comparing myself to also compared themselves to other girls. This endless cycle deteriorates our mental health one post at a time.  

   The National Eating Disorders Association writes “Before social networks, we mostly had images of impossibly perfect celebrities. We would pass these images on billboards, watch them on TV, flip through them in magazines, but we weren’t sitting around staring at them for hours every day.”  

  For this, I am asking that any person who is in a cycle of toxic social media use it to the point that it harms their own mental health to delete it. Come back to it when your scene of self is strong enough that an influencer’s post doesn’t send you into a downward spiral.