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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

On My Mind: Social Media 

Would a ban on TikTok really be a bad thing? 
Brittany Wachtel
Moments spent disconnected. 

Disclaimer: This column openly discusses mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which may be triggering to some readers. 

This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation that will ban TikTok in the United States if its owner does not sell the software. 

Prompted by concerns that the app is a national security threat, the House fast-tracked the legislation, and President Joe Biden has already said that he will sign the bill once it hits his desk. 

Users of the social media platform have been creating content all week about why TikTok should or should not be banned, leading to discussions about the role social media plays in our society.  

This week, we are going to discuss the good and bad that come with social media to determine whether a TikTok ban would really be such a bad thing, 

Connection vs. Comparison 

MySpace was launched on August 1, 2003, and quickly became the first social networking site to reach a million monthly active users.  

MySpace was the first of its kind, a website with the purpose of connection.  

Since then, the world has seen too many social media platforms to count. With nearly 90% of the world reported to be active on various platforms, social media is the ruler of the modern world.  

As time goes on, social media transforms. Going from a place where you shared photos for your family, to a place where you watch someone you’ve never met take you through their daily life.  

With this transformation came a shift in the intention of social media. Social media became less about connecting with others, and more about comparing yourself to others.  

According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of teenagers in the U.S. use social media daily. This use of social media has led to an increase in severe depression by 7% and anxiety disorders by 20%, as researched by MIT Sloan. 

Platforms such as Instagram are a highlight reel, a place where you can share only the best parts of your life and leave out the bad. When you are constantly viewing the best parts of other people’s lives, comparison is inevitable. 

Comparison isn’t the only downside of being active on social media, as nearly 50% of teenagers report being cyberbullied based on physical appearance. Teenagers who are involved in cyberbullying have an elevated risk of suicidal thoughts and actions, with 13.6% of young adults reporting a suicide attempt. 

All negative mental health impacts aside, social media also demonstrates a fair share of positive factors, including access to timely news and increased awareness of taboo topics.  

Many Americans reported getting most of their news from TikTok instead of traditional news sources. Recently, Snapchat has been said to have helped more than 1.2 million people register to vote for the 2020 election, with features that easily allow users to check their voter status. 

Social media has also been effective in raising awareness for topics such as LGBTQ+ communities and political movements like Black Lives Matter. 

Statistics aside, it is hard to imagine a world without social media, particularly if you are part of my generation.  

As an avid TikTok user (whose weekly screen time on TikTok is nearly seven hours), it has been interesting to picture what my life would look like without constant access to entertainment. 

I oftentimes find myself reaching for TikTok when I have nothing better to do, not because I am trying to learn something or fulfill a need.  

There is value in disconnecting from social media. Self-discovery comes from taking the time to realize who you are aside from the way you compare yourself to others, and the daily use of social media doesn’t allow for much self-discovery to take place. 

I’m not sure where I stand on the banning of TikTok, but I believe that taking a step away may be beneficial for most of my generation. 

This week, challenge yourself to stay off social media, even if it is just for an hour. See how you feel about being left to entertain yourself, then evaluate why you feel that way. 

Social media brings joy to our lives, but to what extent is it taking away from what life actually could be? 

Song of the week: “Self Care” by Mac Miller 

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