Editorial: a generation of addicts


A “drug” named “Instagram” has spread rapidly and become the go-to recreational drug for teenagers across the country. An estimated 22 million teens are daily users of the drug, whose side effects include suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, decreased self esteem, trouble focusing, and an unquenchable desire for approval from strangers.

Instagram producer, Facebook, found that 13% of teenage girls having suicidal thoughts in the UK and 6% in the US could connect these thoughts to use of Instagram. Facebook also found that use of Instagram made 32% of teen girls feel worse about their bodies.

The drug caters to a human need for social recognition, a need especially strong in us teenagers. Through administering “Likes” and “Clout” to the brain, Instagram addicts its users, causing us to use the drug for several hours a day.

But perhaps no drug in the social media category is more potent than TikTok. TikTok’s short video platform allows its users to “chase clout” and is so powerful it has made students film themselves stealing school property, ranging from soap and paper towel dispensers to sinks, water fountains, and toilets, for a chance at another high. Twenty-eight percent of TikTok’s 1 billion active global users are under 18. That’s about 280 million people.

And clout-chasing is working. The vandalism that is the “devious licks” trend has produced user videos of school officials asking for names of vandals over loudspeakers; locked school bathroom doors for extended periods of time; and even created a new trend called “angelic yields,” a foil to “devious licks,” in which students donated to bathrooms instead of stealing from them.

To many of us teenagers, the allure of social media affirmation is so potent some will explore any means required to acquire it. The political side of social media gives many teens this outlet.

Waves of petitions, infographics, and selfies incessently swamp our social media feeds with calls to save the elephants or plant trees.

As teenagers, we have little say in our country’s political process. Because of this, we often utilize the tool of social media to amplify our voices. However, this search for a voice has resulted in excessive reposts and comments in search of more validation.

This idea is known as “virtue signaling.” When we see others reposting something pertaining to a specific political or social cause, we feel the urge to repost it to “fit in.” It’s insincere, and it’s lazy.

We have become a generation of addicts. We spend our lives spectating the lives of others, sending pictures of half our faces for no reason to every stranger willing to look at the photos, and showing false, self-aggrandizing versions of our lives to our peers in hopes of receiving affirmation and praise. We need to put the phone down.