Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

The Danger of Social Media Trends

Consider how you engage with your social media content before it gets out of hand. Let’s spread positivity, not negativity.

I bet many of us can relate to swiping through Instagram stories and seeing stickers like “post a picture of you and your best friend or bad luck this month” or “post a baby picture or else” on our feed. Whether you immediately hop on the trend or move right past it, I hope we can agree that it is getting a little annoying.  

Social media, with all its advantages in the ways it brings people together, can also revive old trends best left forgotten. This recent one – where people respond to different “prompts” by posting different pictures responding to said prompts – is basically the next version of chain emails. If you remember getting chain texts or emails you may remember how tiring it was to try to respond to all of them. And, at least for me, when I did not respond it would make me incredibly stressed.  

The messages were incredibly frustrating too.

“You sent ‘X’ which means you don’t hate me, so…”

For context, this text was in response to a post that asked people to send an X if they did not hate the person who posted it. The trend has a few obvious issues. First, just because someone does not send an X does not truly mean anything because sometimes people just do not want to put in the effort. Secondly, the practice of people using social media to expose how they “really feel” about each other feels objectively juvenile  

Slightly more recently, there was a “challenge” where people nominated each other and if you were chosen you would have to post a picture of yourself and then nominate other people. I remember it being a lot of work and stress – I did not want to have to rummage through my photos to find a picture and then choose which of my friends to select – especially for something that seemed so trivial.

Now, I do not think the act of participating in this trend is inherently bad, but it becomes an issue when people feel obliged to participate.When there is a somewhat threatening element behind it, no matter how lighthearted that threat may be, I think to myself, why? There is an added element of pressure when stickers add things like “don’t be lame” or “I can see if you skip.” Nobody wants to be the buzzkill that ignores a challenge even though most recognize it is pointless. 

Another overwhelming text I received:

I found this to be incredibly stressful. I remember staring at this knowing I did not want to respond and hoping that no one would fault me or that nothing bad would happen if refrained. In this particular text, there is also a time limit which definitely added to the tension I felt. This is a perfect example of the sort of problematic content that can easily spread.  

I can only imagine what people with anxiety feel and experience; a particular, intensified, stress from constantly seeing these messages. If they ignore the sticker and then something bad happens, they may blame their misfortune on their lack of participation. In reality, though, there is no correlation between the two. No one will actually be cursed or shamed in any way. While many are able to see this and either play along or ignore these messages without feeling a sense of worry, many cannot. 

This is not a healthy nor productive way for people to engage with their social media content. That said, I encourage people to stop participating in such frivolous things. Rather, people should focus on posting content that is more purposeful – whether that be to attract followers or just to be active on their account for friends and family. If you want to post a cute picture on your story, just do it. I say do what makes you happy. If you want to encourage and spread positivity, rather than instigating a mindless challenge, just wish people a good day. There is so much we can do when it comes to social media trends. So, let’s take what we see online with a grain a salt and consume feed that brings meaning to our lives.

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