By Brooke Harrington, Opinion Writer
After attending college for exactly two weeks, I have come to find that it is not what it seems. Or it is not what Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook “say” it is. Laying in bed after doing the hours of homework I never expected to get, I scrolled through post after post. All I saw was the “greatness” of college. The parties, the “getting sylly” week captions, the pictures of amazing events campuses held, and of course all the big school football games. Growing up in a world full of Instagram, Snap Stories, and Tweets, I have found that from what it looks like, 2017 is the time to live in. But is it really? Are all of these posts a true representation of what the “college life” is like these days? I don’t think so.
CNN reported that teens spend nine hours a day using media, including social media, television, and video games. Now imagine using that nine hours just to compare yourself to someone else. To look at how the girl who sat next to you in AP Literature senior year is now having the absolute greatest time of her life during her first week of college. To see her new life which is so awesome as she is attending so many events and has a million new best friends. This in fact would lead me to envy AP Lit girl, but do I really need to? Is her life actually that much better than mine?
If you’re like most college students there is no doubt that you
make time for following friends on social media. In fact, 71% of adults who go online use Facebook and 23% use Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center. It is not uncommon though to slip into an unhealthy behavior on social media, which can potentially lead to anxiety and depression. There is a sense of distorted thinking that comes from social media, as people forget that postings and profiles eliminate many of the real aspects of one’s life, and only show the ideal. Many people do not take into account that they are looking at the “highlight reel” of someone’s life. Looking at your acquaintance from home having the time of her life, and saying “why is my life not that way” is unhealthy, and can potentially damage one’s self esteem and self-confidence.
The more time you spend on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat the more these false perceptions can become cemented. To get a more realistic view of someone’s experiences, it is important to see them in real life, and not just look at their highlight reel. Social media is the epitome of presenting the concept of our ideal self-versus our real selves. In essence, our online profiles accentuate the ideal aspects of our lives and eliminate the other real components. Because in reality AP Lit Girl may be crying her eyes out at night, struggling through school work, and feeling like she does not belong in her new place. But of course her profiles cannot show that.
So here is a thank you to Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat for all the filters and allowing one to make it seem like they are living the good life. For allowing my profile to show my ideal self. For allowing college to look like it is all fun and games. And for making me realize that social media is not the resource to trust when trying to understand what “college life” is really like when the homework hits you at 1am.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 12th print edition.
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