[Written by Aaria Merchant, 17, on work experience here at Carve]
How different our lives would have been if Mark Zuckerberg and his friends had not decided to launch Facebook in 2004! It’s unimaginable that this was not only the beginning of a life with social media but also the growth of a 2.38 billion user platform.
It goes without saying that millennials have created a world dependant on social networking, but has our reliance reached new heights? According to Emarketer in 2019, 90.4% of Generation Z are active social media users. As a teen myself this statistic is not surprising, yet it remains daunting how much influence the media truly has upon us. I know that my first thought as soon as I wake up is to check my phone and the last thing I do before I go to sleep is the same, which speaks volumes about how much we value screen time.
You might think that saying we’re “addicted to social media” is too bold a statement to make. Social media is integrated into our daily life – it is a wonderful, efficient way to keep in contact whether it be with family, friends or co-workers, all over the world. The recent trial of the removal of likes executed by Instagram shows that the younger generation has begun to drift away from superficial accomplishments. It proves that not everyone in this day and age equates success on social media to real life triumph.
Due to our developing obsession with social media, we have given companies the chance to prosper and take advantage of our dependency by embedding advertisements. Being an influencer has become a full-time occupation, emphasising the huge amounts of following and support they gain daily. Brand ambassadors have emerged as people of idolisation and worship across millennials, most of which the older generation would not even recognise their name.
Take the Instagram model Miquela for example; she is a result of CGI and the use of heavy Photoshop. Despite not being a real person, her page has amassed a following of 1.6 million followers! She has even featured in fashion magazines such as Vogue, V and Paper. This exemplifies the danger of trusting false advertisement in society today, yet millions still choose to keep up with their every move and invest in the clothes and makeup they promote.
To me, it is massively ironic that we have put so much effort into advocating for feminism, only to engage in such shallow, artificial forums. Our backwards mentality has become the new normal, making it harder and harder to change. We now identify bodies with a small waist and curves as “perfect”, alongside lighter skin tones, as demonstrated by these CGI influencers. On the rare occasion of darker skinned models receiving more publicity, they almost never embrace their natural hair. This is a prime example of our motion away from the body positivity movement we fought so hard to receive. In my opinion, social media is and always has been a great way to socialise and communicate, but we are slowly digressing from the networking opportunity we once had.