If you’ve been paying attention to recent online conversations, you may have noticed that social media has become the popular place of blame for this generation’s depression.

The same claim is being made over and over that online posts made by somebody living a more glamorous life than the viewer leaves that individual with unhealthy feelings of jealousy and depression in their own life. So if social media has been so toxic to our youth, why it is still so popular among us?

The reality of it is that social media has given us a safe haven for self expression, a place where we can voice our strong ideas and opinions freely when we can’t do so at school or at home.

At home, some of us have siblings. How many times have you seen your sibling’s share of a meal, or holiday presents, or school clothes and angrily whined, “How come they always get more than I do!?” Humans have been jealous of others’ lives and belongings since the dawn of time.

At school, we have all wished we could be the beautiful one, the smart kid, or the athlete. Too many of us are so quick to blame the internet for our problems. No matter where we are, we see people who have things that we don’t. It’s just part of life.

Social media just makes it easier to encounter these things. But it also makes it easier to cope with them. We get to be whoever we want to, and say whatever we want to, about whatever we want to. While we are more subject to criticism online, it is exceptionally easier to block a harasser online than it is in person.

Social media has allowed millions of people, not just teens, to be whoever they want to be online, since they can choose who gets to see their posts. If anything, social media has brought countless teens together through mutual feelings and opinions they have voiced online. It has produced a place of unity for our youth, where we can talk about the real causes of our depression, anxieties, and insecurities with followers that we know feel the same way. It makes us feel less alone.

Bullies, fears, and mental illnesses won’t go away if social media does, but at least we can talk about these things openly online when we may not get the chance to elsewhere.

Genevieve Marvin is a Hermiston High School student, proud artist and member of the Hermiston dance team.

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