Social media has become an integrative component of everyday life. The younger generations have grown up in a world where aspects of various social media platforms have always existed. My work examines the effects social media is having on adolescents’ mental health and the negative environments that children are exposed to online without parental knowledge.
I find the idea of creating an online persona and internet interactions fascinating. When it comes to social media, I like to participate but not contribute. The permanent nature of posting online is something I do not find appealing. However, I am intrigued about what people are willing to post onto a highly unregulated space. When looking at social profiles, I find that in real life a person may act or speak one way but online they can turn into someone completely different.
I am discussing this dynamic by ‘calling-out’ those who leave negative comments on other people’s social media posts. The comments that I have collected range from death threats to insulting a person based on their appearance. I have taken screenshots of these comments and ‘quote’ the individual by writing down their post and username. I include usernames in my work in an attempt to hold those accountable for what they write as usernames are unique and can be tied back to the individual who created it.
My main objective is to give these comments a physical presence and to create a visual that cannot be as easily ignored if left in a digital space. I want to make what is happening public knowledge and give parents an insight to what their children can potentially be exposed to online, such as cyberbullying and inappropriate sexual content. My work is also designed to serve as a warning to the younger generations. The ability to go by a pseudonym has given users a sense of freedom that influences them to write things they may not say in person. This false sense of security makes the user believe they won’t be subject to cultural and social consequences when, in reality, these posts can be traced back to the person who wrote them. Children need to understand that they can be held accountable for what they post online and it can have real-life consequences.
Behind the usernames and the profile pictures on Instagram are real human beings who are receiving notifications of every like, share, and comment their posts receives. There is a sense of satisfaction when receiving positive praise from peers but it is the negative reactions that linger. It is those comments that have the most significant impact on an adolescent’s mental health and where I garner the content for my work.