Opinion: We must strive to maintain our individuality during an age of social media influence

Paige Chassman

Growing up on a planet engulfed with media, I have lost my self-identity. I have spent the past 18 years of my life being subconsciously taught what is socially acceptable and what is not, and it has transformed me into a faux person. I have watched friends and peers evolve into muted versions of themselves and succumb to the lofty expectations of today.

I cannot remember the last time I made it through a day without worrying about how I am perceived by those around me. Every day, I wake up and am immediately greeted by a sea of faces on the internet that are deemed “perfect.” Throughout the day, I push down urges to dance in the school quad, experiment with outfits that are out of my comfort zone, and say what is truly on my mind to achieve my goal of being accepted by those around me.

In terms of psychology, I have noticed that this feeling I am picking up on goes back to simple ideas around nature versus nurture. In my younger years, I remember being carefree and authentic. Although it is common to be more innocent and optimistic as a child, I do not understand why we feel pressured to completely give up this sensation as we grow up. Each day that I have been further impacted by the ideals and standards around me, I have strayed from the person I was born to be. This is one of the only circumstances in life that I believe nurture is a decision. We can allow ourselves to be impacted by the media, or ignore it and march to the beat of our own drum.

The interesting thing about this phenomenon is that I believe we could all agree that life is much more beautiful with variety. In scientific terms, ecosystems with more biodiversity are more successful. In order to maintain equilibrium, they need plants and animals of all kinds, sizes, and colors.

Rather than accept the fate of being one in a billion of clones, we need to fight this phenomenon by embracing our authentic selves. I have always been drawn towards those who are eccentric and true to their values. Why continue to strive for an idea of flawlessness that is completely unattainable and disingenuous?

I encourage our generation to stop looking to the media and those around us to develop the person we become, but to instead look within ourselves. Our generation should look past the traits that we can not change and instead allow our experiences, environments and passions to shape us.

By Paige Chassman

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