Social Media has Taken Over

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Social Media has Taken Over

Evan Bermont smiling ear to ear because she just got a MacBook Pro.

Evan Bermont smiling ear to ear because she just got a MacBook Pro.

Evan Bermont smiling ear to ear because she just got a MacBook Pro.

Evan Bermont smiling ear to ear because she just got a MacBook Pro.

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According to Small Business Trends, Generation Z’s use Instagram the most whereas Millenniums use Facebook and YouTube the most. The ones that use social media the most are the Millenniums. At first, one would think that generation z would be the ones that use social media more but that’s not the case at all. Millenniums are the generation that grew up when social media, cell phones, and computers were just getting popular. From there it was downward spiral.

When I was growing up, this was the case. I came from a broken, Christian family. It was my mom, my dad, and I. I would have had an older sister but she was miscarried. She was alive for 45 minutes, breathing on her own but she was too tiny to survive. Not having an older sister in my life, influenced how my life progressed and why social media was such a big part of my life. As a baby, my life was great because my parents paid so much attention to me. Both sides of the family always came over to see me or we came over to see them. Whenever we went to my grandparents’ house, I had my little buddy, Bucky, to play with while the grownups talked about their lives. That all changed when my parents and I moved out to Elgin. At the time we were living in Berwyn. We moved into a quiet neighborhood on Seneca Street. We moved into a house, the only house we ever owned. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay there long because the bank was going to take the house away from us, which means we had to move. I didn’t really get into social media until we moved into our apartment on Mann Place.

Everything was pretty much the same when we moved, until I started school. I wasn’t one those kids that was crying because I didn’t want to leave Mommy and Daddy. I was a very social and happy kid. I would go up to everyone and hug them. Of course my parents had to stop me because not everyone wants a hug. I was going to public school for kindergarten at this time. I didn’t go to a private school until first grade. For kindergarten I went to Hillcrest. I had the nicest teacher, Mrs. Smith. I was always excited to go to school because it meant that I got to see her. While I was Hillcrest I had gotten teased a lot. Mostly for how I looked and for what I was wearing. There were three girls that bullied me while I was there. One of the girls turned my friends against me and they started to bully me. Of course at this age I didn’t know what that was. The other two girls kept picking on me and wanting my pants for dumb reason. To this day I still don’t understand why they wanted my pants. Both of my parents were working at the time so when I got out of school I had a babysitter. This was when things changed in my life. I wasn’t as active as I once was because no one wanted to play with the chubby white girl. Plus my parents were too busy to play with me as well. So I was watching TV more, going on the computer, and playing on the PlayStation more. It was kind of a downward spiral for me and my mental health.

When kindergarten was over, I transferred to a private school for first grade through eighth grade. I went to St. John’s Lutheran School and Church. Being Christians ourselves my parents thought that this was a good idea. When I went to the new school I was really nervous and scared. I was scared because I thought that no one would want to play with me or want to be my friend. I was nervous because it’s a new school. The kids that I was with throughout my years at St John’s were bullies. They had the most fake personalities, and no one acted like a Christian Being there pushed me to go onto social media and made me realize how disoriented my mental health was. The whole time I was either by myself or with the only two friends I had there. My first day I was an outsider. I was the new girl. I knew no body. I tried to have a positive attitude about it. I tried to make friends. I met the only two friends that I ever had at that school, Becky and Sarah, that same day. We were the three that got bullied by everyone. We were the weird ones of the class. Becky, Sarah, and I were very close. Well I was close to them individually. Sarah and Becky don’t like each other that much. If I wasn’t around they wouldn’t hang out with each other. If I was around they would pretend to be friends. I was just happy to have any friends at all even if they didn’t like each other and only did it because of me. We all have mental illnesses because of the people at St. John’s. We were bullied pretty much every day. We were bullied by the girls and the boys. . According to stopbullying.gov, in a large study about 49% of students in grades 4th to 12th grade have reported being bullied. We only had each other. At the end of third grade, Sarah left because she couldn’t handle the bullying anymore so her mom homeschooled her and her brother. At this point it was just Becky and I. After fourth grade, I lost her too. So it was just me to deal with the bullies and my growing demons by myself.

While all of this was going on, home life wasn’t all happy and cheery either. My parents were always arguing about money problems. It would get so loud that I would have to cover my ears and just start crying just to get them to stop. If that didn’t work I would run into my room, slam the door shut, and blast some music to drown out their yelling. I had a feeling that my parents were going to divorce. They would argue every day. They argued on my birthday, Christmas, before our family would come over for a birthday party, or even on the way to a party. If that happens I just cover my ears and cry until they stop. This went on for years. At the age of 12, maybe earlier, I decided to make a Twitter account. I used it to vent when my parents argued or just to seek attention from people who felt sorry for me. I was desperate at this point to have some kind of friend. I didn’t care who it was. I needed someone. I had no one had school or at home to talk to. I had a couple people I was talking to on Twitter but seeing that we lived in different parts of the world we weren’t always on at the same times. So there would be days in between when we talked sometimes even weeks. I knew something was wrong with me but I didn’t know anything about depression or even mental illness in general. Whenever I was my family or even at school I had to put on a happy smile to mask what I was really going through. I didn’t tell anyone about what was going on and no one even noticed.

As time went on, my mental health was nonexistent. I was in a dark cavern that I dug out myself and couldn’t get myself out of it even if I tried. In fifth grade I was held back because my school work was suffering due to all the arguing. At this point I was spending most of my time on Twitter with my “friends”. I should have told my parents and my teachers what was going on with me but I didn’t. I saw this as an opportunity to get away from the bullies and the so called “friends” that I had. Little did I know that the class that I was going to be in was just like the one I was just in but worse.

Through fifth all the way to eighth grade I was with the fakest people around. I really felt alone those last few years at St. John’s. I was deep in depression. I was at a point where I didn’t care anymore. I wanted to end it all. I wanted to quit school and life completely. Everyone thought they were better than me. They were all against me and fake around me, saying hi to me and pretending to be my “friend”. I knew their games and I hated it. My grades were suffering but I didn’t care. This is all because in 2010, I was in sixth grade, my parents got divorced. My mom was leaving my dad. In all honesty I knew this was going to happen but I didn’t think it was going to happen so soon. My mom’s brothers and sisters helped us take everything to our new “home”. I felt numb. I didn’t know what to feel. I just wanted to scream and stay with my dad. I hated my mom for this. The entire time we were moving I was on Twitter. I was venting and talking to my “friends”, telling them about everything that was going on. I couldn’t handle to amount of hurt I was feeling towards my mom. Since that day our relationship has been rocky. We would argue all the time. We had the police called on us one time for how much we were arguing.

When I was in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade we’d all take a week field trip somewhere towards the end of the school year. In sixth grade it was to Walcamp, which is a camp that spreads the word of God. In seventh grade we went to Springfield, Illinois and Hannibal, Missouri. Finally in eighth grade we took a trip to Washington D.C. I was able to go to Walcamp, Springfield, and Hannibal but I almost didn’t make it to Washington D.C. You see, since my parents always argued about money they weren’t sure if I’d be able to go. Some people in my class were thinking of helping me out with raising the funds. My mom wouldn’t let that happen because she didn’t want to owe people money. My dad came up with the money, thankfully, and I was able to go. I had a great time. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt happy. I of course had my iPod with me so I could keep on Twitter.

When we got home I was disappointed because half of the time I was depressed because I was stuck with people I didn’t like in the hotel room with me. All of the girls were mean to me the entire time. I had to sleep on the floor one of the nights because no one wanted to sleep in the same bed as me. I tried to stay happy and enjoy myself but I couldn’t. I was just happy to be home and away from the terrible people I was just forced to be with for a whole week but it didn’t last long. My parents were still fighting but my dad was pretty much ignoring my mom which made things worse.

Around May, I had my graduation out of the hell I had been put through at St. John’s. I was excited to get out of there. My parents, a couple of my aunts and uncles were at my graduation. Afterwards they invited my mom and I out to celebrate. I honestly did not feel like celebrating. I just wanted to go home, as a family but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I just had to face the facts. It has been eight years since my parents got divorced. I have been diagnosed with depression. I’m still on social media but I’m doing better with it. I’m not talking about people or about my parents. I’m not being an attention seeker anymore. I’m not as depressed anymore. Life has been good.

I can’t say the same about my cousins. Three of my cousins, Molly, Ilya, and Eva, have all turned thirteen years old this past year. They have grown up with social media all of their lives. I just grew up when it first started so it wasn’t as crazy as it is now. Now my cousin Molly is one of those girls that loves to be on her phone, texting her friends, and hanging out with them. Molly, to my surprise, doesn’t use social media.

“I don’t really use it [social media]. I did have a YouTube but I had to get away from it because of the negative comments I was getting. I do have an Instagram but I haven’t posted anything.” This shocked me because of how much she’s on her phone. I thought for sure she would be on social media but I’m glad she isn’t. She considers herself to be a very social person outside of her phone. She’ll have a conversation with you and hang out. She’s a very outgoing person with a heart of gold.

On both sides of my family, we’re all silly, humorous people. We love making each other laugh. On my mom’s side of the family it’s easy to tell that we all love each other even though they drive each other crazy. On my dad’s side of the family it’s the same way but we just make each other laugh and enjoy the time we have together since their all out of the state.

Molly takes from my uncle Phil. He has a dry sense of humor that makes you wonder if he is insane, in a good way of course. Molly told me that her brother, Matthew, has his own political views and he’s only eleven. Molly told me that she feels that society puts a lot of pressure on girls, especially. She said that girls have the pressure of looking a certain way, skinny. They have to act a certain way and dress a certain way to get the attention of men. She says that this kind of pressure can lead to mental illness and for girls to have self-esteem problems. She told me that, “some of my friends have dealt with cyber bullying and I have too. It’s something that no one should have to go through.” No one should have to go through cyber bullying. Thankfully I haven’t but it’s a shame that people feel the need to go through something like that. Both of my cousins, Molly and Eva, have said that the people who do this feel as though they have more power over someone on the internet than in real life. They also said that it’s sad that the world has come to this point where school officials can’t do anything about cyber bullies because it’s online. I think it’s a stupid excuse and it’s saying that the bullies will get anyway without consequences. According to stopbullying.gov, 70.6% of students have said that they have seen bullying in their schools but only 57% of the time will bystanders intervene, within ten seconds the bullying stops. 70.6% is still a high number of students seeing something and not doing anything about it. When I was bullied, I didn’t have to worry about this because everybody bullied Becky, Sarah, and I when we were together never by ourselves but people would see it happening. No one ever said anything.

Eva, my cousin, also told me that she’s been bullied in person and on the internet.

“I’m not a big fan of social media because of the pressure that it puts on everyone to have a certain image, to look a certain way, skinny. It leads to all sorts of things, like bullying. In school people will judge you on how popular you are on social media. It definitely plays a big role in people’s lives that I am not a big fan of.” She uses snapchat and Instagram but she doesn’t like it. She only made accounts because her friends forced her into it. Since Eva isn’t a big fan of social media I thought it would be easier for her to have a conversation with people face to face. This isn’t really the case.

“Actually no. I find that people are more open when their online because their either too nervous or there is something to embarrassing that they don’t want to talk about. I just feel like people want to talk more online than in person and are more confident online then in real life. Which is sad because face to face is the basis of life.” I agree with her because teens are more focused on their phones.

“I agree. When I go to school tomorrow I’ll ask my friends, ‘Hey how was your weekend?’ ‘Oh it was okay.’ They’ll be so focused on their phones especially in class. It’s hard to talk to people when their so focused on that one thing.” When I was in high school things were just like that. I was on my phone but during lunch, study hall, in between classes. I was never on my phone during class. It’s just rude to do that and the fact that people in her generation still do that is unbelievable.

I had a chance to talk to my cousin Ilya. He was adopted by my uncle Steve and my aunt Leslie from Russia when he was four years old. Being a boy I thought it would be interesting to get his point of view about social media and how it’s different for boys. Ilya doesn’t use social media that much but he feels that it’s really open to express yourself. He’s said in his parents’ generation there were no cell phones, no social media, so everyone was always hanging outside. He tends to like face to face communication and hanging out with his friends instead of being on social media. Being a boy he feels that he does have the same pressures to look and act a certain way. Now my uncle Steve feels that social media is confusing. He doesn’t understand why kids are so attracted to it and what the big deal is with it. He also says that when someone from my generation posts something on social media it’s consider true or a reality whereas back in his day, when someone says something you can tell that it’s a lie. He doesn’t understand what that happens. He then talks about how president uses social media too much and tweets way too much. He also thinks that someone needs to take his phone away.

My parents’ generation is very different because of the fact that everyone was outside and actually hanging out with their friends. There was no obesity rate. It was better back then. I would have loved to have grown up in a world where there was no cell phones and no social media. There were still pressures for girls to look a certain way. For my dad it was different. He didn’t feel any pressures. He was bullied however and was sick most of his life due to allergies and asthma. My mom was bullied in a different way. Her father was an alcoholic and chain smoker. He was always degrading my mom and her siblings but he did a number to my mom. Thankfully there wasn’t social media and cell phones around because that probably would have made my parents lives worse. I’m grateful for my past because without it I wouldn’t be the same person I am now.