By Gabriel Callaghan, Fourth Year Physics.
I refer to it as anti-social media, or peer pressure on demand. Whilst deciding on a topic for this article, I was becoming annoyed by the latest series of Instagram adverts.
They advocated posting a photo of yourself in a frame for people to judge you based on your looks. The ‘most liked’ people were labelled trendsetters and appeared in the feed of each user.
This is very troublesome. Usually, celebrities and influencers wear overpriced clothes taking an excessive amount of care over their appearance. Because the ‘good-looking woman’ is commonly seen in all the feeds of a peer group, people perceived as not conforming to the ‘thigh gap’ or ‘slimline stereotype’ are bullied.
To me, it seems an enigma to bully someone because of their weight. A girl can have the best ‘looks’ in the world, but if she doesn’t have a good personality, what’s the point of dressing up like an actor? If someone is demanding that you change who you are just to please them, then frankly they’re no good for you.
Social media even affects people’s food choices. Steak and chips rarely features on the feed, but a salad with an egg or a cup of coffee attracts lots of likes. The humble British cup of tea is significantly less featured. Why? Because coffee is more fashionable. It’s a very sad indictment when people change what they eat because of social media propaganda. If I have some food, I’m going to be busy eating it rather than photographing it for you.
Many people are pressured into following the crowd. The cosmetics industry makes people feel insecure: it churns out products, labelling someone as sub-par if they don’t put highlights in their hair, or if they don’t wear a certain type of lipstick. These cosmetics products are marketed as a lifestyle: wear this aftershave and you will be rich and successful, just like a James Bond casino guy. It’s all propaganda.
Then there is the fashion industry. I am amused when I see people advertising a brand with a huge logo on the front of a designer sweatshirt. One of these with a logo can cost £85. Surely, they should be paying you for advertising as well! It’s like buying into a clan. You are part of an anonymous series of robots for buying one of these ‘garments’. These clothes don’t even look good defaced with a massive logo.
Social media is used to present someone wearing a particular set of clothes as ruling the social scene. The displayed clothes enhance the ‘desirable’ slim physique. Why wear tight-fitting clothes purely to show off your figure? I’m not sitting around uncomfortably simply because social media expects me to do so.
People’s behaviour on social media surprises me. Bullies empower themselves to attack individuals through an anonymous network. Schoolchildren are harassed by peers for their differences. All these bullies want is for everyone else to live in their own depraved world. Life would be no fun if it wasn’t for ‘rebels’ and ‘weird’ people! Most nasty comments would never be made to somebody’s face. And, with social media, there’s no escape from the harassment. Private photos can be weaponised in ‘roast sessions’ by bullies who feel a sense of impunity due to the firewall of a screen between them and their victims. These people decimate lives at the very least.
As a student, I am supposed to live on social media. But I don’t. I am happy to turn my back on this whole charade, which is something I encourage you to try because it’s great fun!
Why do some people think that a good friendship is not based on accepting people for who they are and not making them pretend? Personality is far more important, something that is sadly missing from social media. Talking on the phone with someone seems to be ancient now, even though it is much simpler.
Here are some places you can find support:
Report and Support, Durham University: https://reportandsupport.durham.ac.uk/support/category/bullying-and-harassment
Counselling Service, Durham University: https://www.dur.ac.uk/counselling.service/
College Student Support Offices
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