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Social media is a way for people to paint a picture that their lives are glamorous and perfect, and in return, they get more likes, followers and praise. These posts create unrealistic standards and can affect teenagers' self-esteem.

Social media has reconnected lost friends, kept people in touch and is one of the biggest forms of entertainment for today’s college students since their middle and high school years. It seems like everyone has an account with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. These platforms allow users to share what’s going on in their lives while expressing opinions and emotions.

But as social media has grown substantially in the past decade, it’s evolved and changed from the original hopes it provided. Increasingly, social media use can lead to burnout for individuals, which can have negative implications on individuals and society.

Businesses use social media as a marketing staple but now must consider how their methods of driving engagement may help spark unintended negative externalities.

“Social media has changed from its original purpose,” a Los Angeles teenager interviewed by The Wall Street Journal last January said. “It used to be some fun, laid-back kind of app,” another student said, implying that there’s now pressure in using the platforms.

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Gone are the days of casual pictures and posts, as the new wave of filters and photo altering helps users gain likes, followers and attention. “It’s like a popularity contest,” said one of the teenagers.

Social media is a way for people to paint a picture that their lives are glamorous and perfect, and in return, they get more likes, followers and praise. These posts create unrealistic standards and can affect teenagers' self-esteem. Phrases such as “I’ll never be that skinny, that lucky, that successful” are derived from the edited and altered posts that some teenagers make today.

Donna Wick, founder of Mind-to-Mind Parenting, said there’s a combination of factors that make “the perfect storm for self-doubt” when it comes to seeing posts on social media. They include vulnerability, the need for validation and comparing oneself to peers.

Competition created by striving for attention on social media can be damaging to teenagers’ self-esteem. Being actively engaged with peers online by liking and commenting on friends’ posts also brings pressure.

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Social media addiction impacts countless people and can lead to mental health issues.

The accumulation of all these factors leads to social media burnout and can force people away for a period of time or off of the platforms entirely, which decreases engagement and may lead to less ad exposure for businesses hoping to reach a wide audience.

Instead, businesses that rely on social media to promote and advertise products while reaching target audiences should be mindful of social media burnout when creating content online.

If companies create content that’ll cause teenagers to react the same way to content as they do to peers and those who “paint a picture,” those users quite likely will be turned away from the business. By contrast, businesses can leverage the social media situation to create content that will attract new customers and keep them longer.

If businesses see competitors using filters and photo altering apps, they can go against normal conventions and shy away from those tools while better reaching the audience that’s dealing with social media burnout. Those teenagers quite possibly could be intrigued by not seeing “perfect” photos all through their feeds and encouraged to explore the business’s website.

Much like teenagers and young adults these days, it’s tempting for businesses to reach a wider audience, have regular announcements about new products and services and be popular with as many followers and likes as possible. However, social media burnout can cause problems for both of these different parties and be costly to their self-esteem and perception of themselves.

Andrew Withers is a junior finance major. Contact Andrew at

Disclaimer: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I’m not receiving compensation for it, and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.