By a 4th year student, Ireland
Generation Z has grown up online and has witnessed a rapid rise and development in the online world, so it’s no surprise that it is so popular and intrinsic in the lives of teens today.
Since I was eleven or so I have clear memories of my peers beginning to receive their first phones – mostly handed down from parents and siblings, and with that the exponential joining of social media platforms.
I was initially enthralled by the idea of social media and quickly pleaded and begged my parents to let me join Instagram – this came mostly from a sense of wanting to assimilate and do what my peers were doing. However, after creating an account it wasn’t long before the allure vanished and I knew almost instantly that it was not an environment I liked.
As someone who wasn’t very popular and was a bit ‘different’, I dreaded the ‘like’ feature and I despised how it made others around me act. I distinctly remember people constantly checking and counting the amounts of ‘likes’ they got and making snide remarks about others’ posts and the lack of ‘likes’ their own posts received. I couldn’t believe how ridiculous the whole situation was and how quickly it spread among my peers.
The popularity of social media, particularly Instagram and Snapchat in my case, also opened a floodgate to cyberbullying which I tried my best to steer clear of, but this proved difficult since the easiest solution is to come off social media altogether but that in itself leaves you open to a different ostracisation.
As I entered secondary school, the pressure to maintain an online presence became stronger as it’s often used as the default means of communication. However, recently I became friends with a group of classmates who don’t subscribe to social media and I can wholeheartedly say that I’m jealous of their lifestyle. They don’t feel the same social pressures and because they have never been on social media platforms before, they don’t know what they’re missing out on in terms of connectivity and communication.
After being in this friend group I have found that although I still have accounts on certain social media platforms my activity on them has significantly decreased. I am still kept up to date and have the option to communicate and connect effectively but I do it on my own terms and I don’t let it consume me – for instance I would generally spend 30 minutes on Snapchat a week, sometimes even less.
I think that it is extremely difficult to completely remove ourselves from social media and the online world in this day and age and it is not necessarily good for us to do that either, but I think it’s essential for our health to limit and refine our activity online.