My sixteenth gift
Most of my peers started downloading Snapchat and other social media platforms when we were about twelve years old; I was busy acting out Harry Potter in my backyard.
I had, of course, asked my parents the question. Without breaking stride, my parents looked at each other and said, “No.” I was devastated at the time; everyone around me was thriving on social media because all of their parents let them download it. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t. That was in fifth grade, so when middle school came, I asked once again in hopes of a different answer. However, I was presented with a “no” once more. Having heard it before, I was not as distraught, but I was visibly upset. Then, I brought it up going into high school, no real surprise there, I was greeted by the familiar “no.” I nodded my head and moved on.
My sixteenth birthday came and went. A few days later, my parents and I sat down for a chat, and I was gifted an Instagram account. I would like to say I was not immediately sucked in, but I would prefer to be honest here: I spend more than enough time scrolling through reels and celebrities’ accounts.
As I do so, I am more and more grateful that my parents made me wait. The person I was in middle school was far too insecure and held in way too much FOMO (fear of missing out). The mental crash I could have endured would have been too much. Present-day me is immensely thankful for the mental stability.
If I had to watch other people’s adventures—ones I had been left out of—the tears would spill and the anger would rise to the surface before I could register the picture I had seen”
At such a young age, I did not hold the tools to process or deal with the mass feelings and insecurities I had. If I had to watch other people’s adventures—ones I had been left out of—tears would spill and anger would rise to the surface before I could register the picture I had seen. Back then, I thought I could handle the weight of social media; I was wrong. I struggle now to limit my time on Instagram, but when I catch sight of people hanging out, jealousy does not flood my senses.
I have finally come to the realization that my parents are right: social media can be dangerous—that is if it is misused. I lean toward scrolling through reels during study breaks or when the time emerges; I rarely post pictures, and I only comment pleasant words on friends’ posts. I give a heart to others. While it does steal some of my precious time, it does not harm me mentally like social media and the people on the sites can. I have been lucky enough to avoid the drama, but the countless stories of the horrors it brings have reached my ears.
I have watched documentaries and heard of podcasts that discuss social media and its downsides. One documentary I will be reviewing later this week discusses the way social media was intended to be used versus how it is used now. It goes on to talk to people who worked at the companies early on for their perspective. I am grateful that I have an Instagram account and an opportunity to experience the world of social media, but I also register that there are two sides to this story: the good and the ugly.