By Daniella Castro
Pulse Staff Reporter
The never-ending cycle of seeking validation online can be mentally draining. Social media can often make us feel discouraged and unhappy with ourselves more than it empowers us.
From the number of followers to the number of likes, many of us have tried to search for our purpose and self-worth through the online world. It’s easy to get caught up in the trends of Instagram, where everyone has mistaken popularity for happiness.
We scroll through the endless feed of seemingly perfect lives and wonder why we are not enough. This is one of the reasons why the vicious cycle of posting, liking and caring about what others think of us can be harmful to our mental health.
Several studies have linked depression and loneliness to the use of social media. Young people spend hours upon hours on Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok on a daily basis. Studies show that connection among people is made electronically more than it is physically or emotionally, causing us to feel socially isolated and lonely.
As we scroll through our Instagram feeds, we see other people’s lives, and we may feel excluded or have FOMO (fear of missing out). People post pictures of them out with friends, family or with a romantic partner, and sometimes this can trigger others to ask themselves why they seem to not have those types of connections, as well.
Human beings need real connection in a real social world, not from the screens of smartphones. It is so important to put the phone down and just live in the moment.
Johanna Garcia, a sophomore Environmental Science major at Palo Alto College, described how the need for online validation affected her life. She explained how she used to care a lot about her likes and her popularity on social media, but she has finally learned that it’s more important to live her life by her own terms and not compared to anybody else’s.
“As soon as I started college, I looked at myself and was like, do you really want to go around being this person that needs validation from other people to be happy?” she asked. “I decided I wanted to be happy in my own ways, doing what I want to do.”
She does admit, though, how other people’s picture-perfect lives on Instagram can get her down sometimes. It’s important to remember that everyone has their own problems, obstacles and bad days, too.
Abby Deleon, a sophomore Science major at Palo Alto College, said she often takes breaks from social media when she feels it is necessary. She said she takes a day or two away from Twitter to distance herself from any negative news that may overwhelm her.
Deleting the apps, having social-media free days and putting your phone out of reach can have many more mental health benefits than most realize.
It’s necessary to remove the rose-colored filters and see our own lives from our own perspectives. Only then will we finally realize that real happiness is not given but found within ourselves.