(Manan Vatsrayana / AFP/Getty Images)
Whittier Christian High School

Opinion: Don’t fall for the social media trap

Nowadays, Photoshop is an indispensable thing in celebrity photos, social media and even sometimes in school yearbooks.

Ironically, people express themselves and show their daily lives by editing their skin tone, size of eyes, shape of nose, and even, their length of legs. Often times, the editing goes over the board and makes it hard to identify the person.

But why are we doing this? Why is everyone expressing themselves with something that aren’t genuinely them? One answer I can come up with is the desire for validation and the fear of getting judged by others.

In modern days, people are more connected than ever before with social media, developed internet and more. People across the world check each other’s status everyday, and acquaintances who aren’t that familiar can see personal lives and may press likes or dislikes on others’ account.

This connectivity has led to more communication, easy-to-access information and more; but it has also become tools for seeking validation and judgment from others.

Appearances are not the only thing. Achievements, vacation destinations, food, friends, and family are all shown in our social media posts and are used by others to put value on our social status and quality of life.

Got an award? Stayed at the Ritz? Ate at a Michelin Starred restaurant? Took a selfie with Keanu Reeves? “Wow, she must live a very high quality, happy life.” Who doesn’t want that kind of envy?

We often let this kind of labeling by others define us to the point where we devote almost our entire lives to our social media alter-egos who possess all of our highlights and none of our behind-the-scenes bloopers.

We do things that would impress others, we take pictures of things we can proudly show to others, and we cake our faces to be more “mainstream Instagram.”

This is the trap — the vicious cycle that’d render us to get hung up in others’ judgement, one that’d make us forget ourselves and our own happiness in return for impressing others.

Then how do we get out of this trap? How do we stop devoting our lives to impress others, seeking validation and avoiding negative judgments?

I think one good way to do it is to find something that is genuinely important to us. Something that we value, no matter what others will say. This can be our passion, a goal of our own, or simply a moment that we truly feel alive and present.

When we find our true treasures, focus on attaining and preserving them, and enjoy while looking at those things, we can be free from the trap of seeking others’ validation and worrying for judgments.

In psychology, we call this concept intrinsic motivation — when someone is driven to do something by a motivation that is from their heart, finding meaning and joy in the process. It is different from extrinsic motivation where people do something for rewards as compensation for their work.

When we do something that is motivated intrinsically, the process itself is sort of a reward, as it, in and of itself, provides happiness.

Intrinsic motivation is proven to be a more effective motivation than extrinsic motivation in the long term, and it also is a key factor to a life that is more satisfying.

One thing I do is scrapbook (yes, on a real physical photo album) meaningful moment in my life, whether it is a picture of my mom walking in front of me or a picture of my childhood nursery.

I print those pictures out, and when I feel tired and need some time of refreshment, I place them in my album and write small captions next to it, recapping my memory of that precious moment. No one can see it but me, and it is not something spectacular to anyone else anyways.

I don’t think we should all avoid our social medias and deactivate Facebook; however, we can try taking one photo a day that is not meant to be shared online, one daily photo that reminds us why we truly do the things we do.