The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Lost in the crowd: The rise of social media and the loss of individualism

Social media is controlling teenagers’ personalities today and has stripped away their imagination and self expression, which is detrimental to human creativity as a whole.

Originally meant to connect people and share ideas, social media has taken a transformative turn, now dictating not only preferences, but shaping the very personalities of today’s youth. The rise of influencers has ushered in an era where teenagers base their entire lives on what they see on their screens, from fashion choices to lifestyle habits. The danger in this lies in the fact that, in the pursuit of following trends, teenagers have created an inescapable “herd mentality.”

Looking for a Halloween costume? Easy; your favorite influencer has a list of the year’s top 10 hottest costumes. However, you’ll be dressed as an angel – along with 50 other girls around you. How about outfit ideas for a night out? TikTok has got you covered, along with the other thousands of teens who watched the same video. Social media has made it so easy to just copy, that today there is little need for creativity, thus creating a generation devoid of self-expression.

Trends create pressure for everyone to purchase the best, most popular products, which results in everyone conforming to the same styles. Take the WHS hallways, for example. As you walk, you are surrounded by students all wearing identical products from the same brands:

Lululemon, Zara and Nike. While the act of owning such similar products is not an issue, it is clear how few original thoughts are being expressed, or even had, today.

It is also essential to recognize that the problem extends beyond the realm of fashion; it permeates every aspect of a teenager’s life. At WHS, students are often attracted to the same few colleges because of the reputation they have been given on social media. Universities such as Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Elon and University of Miami are always popular choices for high school students, and not just for academic reasons.

Influencers such as University of Miami graduate Alix Earle make these schools much more attractive through their social media identities and unceasing praise for the college. At the WHS college fair, out of the 78 tables, those for OSU, Penn State and Michigan received the majority of the students’ attention, and had consistently long lines throughout the entire fair. Meanwhile, Binghamton University and James Madison University, which are academically comparable but less popular, saw little interest.

From the way we express ourselves, to the choices we make about our futures, the influence of social media is pervasive, leaving little room for the development of original thoughts and ideas. 

Although the presence of social media is unlikely to decrease, teenagers can combat this by thinking beyond the screen, and looking to express themselves without the influence of someone else. Social media should be a resource for inspiration, not a model to copy directly, nor should it cause entire populations of people to conform to the same exact lifestyles and emulate the same personalities.

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    David CrommettDec 19, 2023 at 8:34 pm

    Terrific article!