Coping with social media pressures

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 5:08 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Finstagrams, a fake, alternative Instagram account shared only with trusted friends, allows young adults growing up in the digital age a chance to cope with an overly-polished social media era.

“I think that with growing up in the digital age, we’re used to having all of ourselves at one point or another being shared on an online platform,” said Cosette Nowick.

Nowick is a student at Illinois State University, and like many in her generation, feels the pressure of social media.

“While that sounds fantastic, in theory, to have that reach of a connection that generations before us never had, I also consider it quite stressful.”

To alleviate that stress, some turn to a secondary account, otherwise known as a Finsta. Olivia Key, who is also a student at Illinois State University, has one.

“Sometimes having a Finsta can take that pressure away,” said Key.

Users are free to post what they want and comment without judgement on their Finstagrams. This allows young adults to broadcast a more vulnerable part of themselves rather than posting a picture-perfect façade.

“I think it’s a relief for them to be their real selves,” says Brian Klaung, a licensed clinical social worker in Rockford.

Klaung provides support for young adults and understands the debilitating effects of social media.

“The postings are almost more about getting likes and attention and approval,” he said. “So that attention, that approval, that validation, temporarily fills that cup, but at the end of the day, they still feel empty.”

The interactions users receive on a real Instagram account release a flood of dopamine into their system. Dopamine is a pleasure-inducing neurochemical that stimulates the feeling of a natural high; however, constantly trying to achieve this physiological response becomes exhausting.

Klaung says that users experience increased rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. To combat these emotions, Klaung says it’s about taking a break from social media to build an internal foundation of self-esteem, rather than defining your worth based off of the amount of interactions you receive.

“You have to heal from the inside out, not from the outside in,” said Klaung.

Being selective about who you follow, maintaining authenticity, and promoting positivity on social media can help minimize the effects of online pressure.

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