Necks bent at odd angles. Sore fingers typing frantically. Swollen red eyes scrolling down the piercing bright glare of the computer screen. Even when the school bell rings, we still struggle to snap out of our digital world.
In her article, “People Judging ‘Peeple,’” Caroline Yun ’18 expressed her disapproval of Peeple, a new app that allows people to review and comment on other people. Yun asserted that we should ban such apps because the site allowed students to judge others based on social media numbers. I think, however, that banning Peeple does not address the root of the problem at hand. The app is not the cause of social pressures. Contrary to popular belief, the cause is the growth of self-consciousness and lack of self-confidence in students. Peeple’s original intent was to create a “positivity app for positive people,” not to construct a space for people to shame or bully others. Some users who sign up for Peeple join because they want to improve themselves. Instead of eschewing criticism, they are willing to accept their flaws so that they can improve and build confidence. On the other hand, people who think that social media numbers and other people’s criticism are detrimental to their own reputation are the ones who are negatively impacted by Peeple.
Facebook was also initially launched to encourage healthy interaction and communication between friends and students. Facebook has always served this purpose, yet the problem is that students also use Facebook to compare the number of friends they have to the number of friends others have. Facebook friends are just numbers; the students are the ones who give the numbers their interpretations.
Andover students are engrossed with social media because of peer pressure and their own imaginations and interpretations regarding social media numbers. They care about social ratings and how their peers view them. People will always be judging and making first impressions. We decide how much impact these judgements have on us.
The solution is to establish programs on campus that promote self-esteem in students. For example, the Andover community can help students overcome pressures from the ever-expanding digital age by requiring students to partake in community engagement projects that they can develop and lead. Opportunities to discuss how social pressures affect students are also essential. We can continue these discussions during dorm meetings or during Wednesday All-School Meetings. If students learn how to handle and maintain healthy relationships, then social media drama will handle itself.
Students should not care about how others rate them. Our true personalities and merits are more important than the social media numbers that affect our lives so greatly. Shifting our focus away from the numbers will allow us to gain confidence from ourselves rather than from social media status. If we already love who we are, we would not constantly tear ourselves down because of our social ranking. Let the apps stay, and let our personalities overpower. Genuine confidence is from within, not from a number given to us on Peeple or Facebook. Simply blocking social media apps or restricting social media time will not prevent students from feeling insecure about themselves. Instead, we can strive harder than before to build a community that promotes self-confidence in students.