Christopher Nash '22
Today, children are given access to technology at younger ages than ever before. All human knowledge, achievement, and failure is now at the fingertips of a twelve-year-old—power that our ancestors could only ever dream of. But instead of learning about the world surrounding him, the twelve-year-old plays video games. Instead of exploring our solar system, the twelve-year-old watches television. Instead of researching a project for school, the twelve-year-old dodges an age restriction and registers for Instagram.
But this article is in no way designed to renounce technology, to spurn it as devil’s spawn, or to take the phone out of the hands of the newborn. It is merely a commentary on the way social media is used and how it will be used in the future, whether you read this article to its conclusion or toss it aside now in condescension. I claim no moral high ground on this issue whatsoever, and so I acknowledge the complete hypocrisy of even thinking that I might be in a position to write this piece in the first place. But I am going to continue on with brazen confidence and return to my story.
The twelve-year-old, at this point in his life, has not seen much. The world that he sees every day is the only world he knows (it's 2021, no one reads books anymore). The vocabulary that his friends, teachers, and parents use is the only language he understands. His first social media account changes that. His perception of life, which was before a narrow pinprick, is widened to the entire spectrum of human existence. The shock exhilarates the twelve-year-old; it makes him feel cultured and worldly, it elevates him from the mundane and oftentimes boring existence that he now realizes was his life before. He posts about his interests and the accomplishments he’s proud of, and his life is, seemingly, a happy one.
But as the twelve-year-old enters his teenage years, he begins to notice something. His classmates receive more likes than him on their posts, and their number of followers begins to climb. So the fourteen-year-old begins to imitate their content. He deletes the old posts of his cat purring in its sleep and posts a picture of himself at a sports game. He hides the award he won for playing the violin and shows himself at the beach with a hat on backwards instead. And as the fourteen-year-old’s followers increase, his likes and comments pile up.
Now, the seventeen-year-old’s account looks the same as all his classmates’. No difference can be spotted save the username at the top. The passions of that wide-eyed twelve-year-old have long been lost or hidden from view. In the widening of the boy’s world, the scope of his life has been narrowed.
This phenomenon is here to stay—human nature all but necessitates a constant search for validation. I’m aware that this article isn’t providing you with the realization of how social media corrupts every corner of your existence. But what’s important for you to realize is that social media destroys and has destroyed every shred of self-identity that you once possessed.