A mere glance upon a bustling city, a lively school courtyard, a congested airport or the entirety of modern society reveals a commonality: social media is ubiquitous, pervasive within the lives of humans. With every breath, movement and thought, individuals find themselves drawn to the buzzing device within their pockets, the addiction that lurks within their mental space. Despite the omnipresence of the social media phenomenon, social media is not solely a creative space, but also a breeding ground for toxicity within human lives. Social media exists as a negative force; the platforms instill users with mental health disorders, sleep issues and self-esteem alteration.

Social media creates mental distress, such as anxiety and depression, within the minds of users. Through scientific research, academics have discovered a significant correlation between clinical anxiety and social media as expressed by evident restlessness worry, sleep loss and a lack in concentration. A study published in the scientific journal Computers and Human Behaviour discovered that individuals who utilize seven or more social media platforms are more than three times as likely as individuals who use a range of zero to two social media websites to possess heightened levels of clinical anxiety symptoms. In alignment, depression boasts a profound correlation to social media activity. Two studies by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health  enlisted a body of more than 700 students. These studies experimentally concluded that symptoms of depression, such as exhaustion, a lack of energy and feelings of despair and hopelessness, are parallel to the nature of engagements on social media. Social scientists turned to experimental data in order to conclude that negative interactions upon social media, such as cyberbullying, ranting and hate speech, are linked to the development of depression. Within the presence of social media, there exists an overwhelming quantity of hatred and negativity in cyberspace; however, this darkness is not confined to the space of the web. It lurks within your mind.

Furthermore, social media serves as a detriment to the concept that powers humankind: sleep. In the early age of humanity, beings possessed a degree of natural circadian rhythm, as they basked in the  moonlight and darkness during the night. Modern reality boasts a contrasting narrative, as individuals now are consumed by damaging artificial lighting from sunrise to sunset. Experimental research has discovered  that constant exposure to artificial lighting, a complement of social media,  can inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that supports healthy sleep. Blue light, a product of smartphone and laptop screens, is declared the worst contributor. To put it simply, your night routine of sprawling upon your bed for hours checking your Instagram feed and Snapchat streaks is ruining your much-needed rest. 

This concept of blue light ruining sleep was tested in 2017 when researchers from the University of Pittsburgh questioned 1700 young adults about their social media usage and sleep schedule. They discovered a significant alignment with sleep complications as a result of ubiquitous blue lighting in social media applications. Social media users should update their status to the reality of their usage: sleepless. 

Moreover, social media dramatically alters the self-esteem of the beings that roam aimlessly upon the portals of influence. Everyone has felt that feeling: the expanding pit within the abdomen, churning of the mind and tightening of the throat that ensues after the pause upon an image while scrolling. An image of a Facetuned model complete with defined physical features and designer clothes greets your eager eyes, and you cannot help but compare your existence to those that gleam with a Photoshopped glow upon your lit screen. As discovered by the disability charity Scope, social media forces more than half of users to develop feelings of  inadequacy, as half of 18- to 34-year-olds say that social media websites leave them feeling unattractive. Additionally, a study in 2016  at Penn State University concluded that scrolling through the selfies of other humans drastically lowers self-esteem, as users compare their lives to the beaming figure in the photo, despite the potential falsehood of the photo. While social media may serve as a positive creative outlet, the painted pictures of reality that users create can wound the self image of consumers.

In every pastel feed and noir photo exists a reality: social media is an artistic force. This concept, however, is not the embodiment of social media, as social media undoubtedly boasts a host of negativity that outweighs the creative nature. By leaving users with mental health disorders, sleep issues and self-esteem alterations, social media is creating an aura of darkness within the scope of humanity. With human existence at stake, social media usage should be drastically altered and limited in order to further the wellness of society. The future rests within your next scroll, like or streak.