Reputation and Social Media by Stella Smyth

As social media immerses itself in everyday life, the meaning of reputation changes with it. Growing up with Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and more, I’ve learned to be very careful with what I put on my social media platforms by posting only the best version of myself, the only version I want others to see.  But why invest so much time into creating an alternative and ideal version of myself on the internet when I will never be able to achieve it in reality? What does the word reputation really mean, especially when social media is involved? Given that you only post what you want others to see, I’ve noticed many girls (including myself) create an image that may not be true to them, but rather maintains a certain aesthetic. Usually, maintaining this aesthetic is extremely time consuming, yet many of us still choose to spend time crafting our next post or taking our next Snapchat. We feel compelled to participate in these actions because of the fear of judgment from other girls, as well as the need to compete and feel superior amongst our peers. I believe competition is one of the driving forces of social media use. Especially in high school, it can seem as though social media is the only way to maintain a reputation (inside of school and out), which creates an environment where girls focus more on their phones than on the people around them. However, society promotes this, as we are told it is very important to maintain this ‘perfect’ version of ourselves online. The constant messages we receive from the media tell us we need to compete to be and look a certain way, and we encourage each other to fit this mold by complimenting others on how well they can fit the version of an ‘ideal’ girl.  This unhealthy behavior encourages girls to attempt to fit society’s ideal version of femininity, even though it is exclusive, unattainable, and can never be reached. To change this competitive and unhealthy environment, we can increase the positive effects of social media by changing society’s current idea of femininity and replacing it with acceptance, support, and inclusivity instead of only valuing those who meet society’s impossible standards and expectations.