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Credits: Renzo Fanelli

Poison ivy-media 

The most shocking but also absurdly usual thing is the media. How fake, polarizing, super pressuring, and most of the time useless it is, but it wasn’t always like that. 

Let’s look at its history

The first leaf

When it all started with such platforms as MySpace, social media had a very nice intent behind it. People made connections through common interests and posted about their lives. In 2004 MySpace hit 1 million users, which at the time was a pretty big number. Today, however, 1 million is nothing compared to the 2.9 billion users of Facebook, with YouTube following and Instagram being not too far, and don’t forget about TikTok which made its grand breakthrough in 2020 during quarantine. It is fair to say that the world has become obsessed with social media. 

All those platforms, though, are very different from their former MySpace and the target audience of those apps varies. Instagram is used by many age groups, while Snapchat and TikTok are considered to be for the younger generation. Despite the popularity of FaceBook, it is thought to be oriented towards older people. 

Why is it poisonous? 

General side

Everyone on social media is branding themselves. You share aspects of your life that you want people to associate you with: your meal, your friends, your hobbies, your clothes, your experiences. In other words, you’re marketing yourself, and the product is YOU.

Which explains then why someone would get upset about the number of likes they receive or do not receive. In this situation, people sell themselves not for money, but attention, appreciation, and admiration. People want to seem unique and fashionable, and if their content is not likable, they just copy what is mainstream (not always the case but still often is). There is a certain pressure to fit in and be like nobody else and everybody else. Let’s take for example casual Instagram culture. It is a simple aesthetic like when you take a picture of your bed with a coffee and a book on it, a white blanket beside them as if they were actually in that position, but you know that you specifically put them in those places and were setting up good lighting as well. Or it is some candids of you that look like you’re just your natural self but in reality, your friends were trying to catch a good take for hours. People try to fit in without necessarily feeling like it, which makes it all pointless but then you will at least receive a compliment of having a girl from Pinterest kind of feed, right? That is the pressure of performance, and that is how casual Instagram turned the art of living into the art of performance. Isn’t that fucked up? You try to just post about your life but it turns out even that has to be some kind of way to impress others. In addition, let’s not forget that most trends are created by privileged white people. Society demands we follow them without acknowledging that some trends are not accessible or do not fit minority groups

Prestige side

On the celebrity side of the media, it is even worse. Celebrities want to stay relevant and important, and for their name to constantly be on the lips of people. Every like, share, and comment is a “win”, and in the case of celebrities, it does not quite matter if the public response is negative or positive. People got canceled and the next week they were back as if nothing happened.  The “canceling” culture, by the way,  is a perfect instance of the extremes of social media. It seems like the public will either adore you or hate you, with no middle ground. Sometimes, we might even think that something was not supposed to be a viral thing, but it was perfectly thought out by professionals as a promotion of something. The viral video of Kendal Jenner not knowing how to cut a simple cucumber is a great example. When people laughed at Kendall, the picture of her (in the hoodie of her company) was on the front of all articles, and that was a free ad for her tequila brand. That situation illustrates how people that are powerful enough manipulate the public. Manipulation, unfortunately, is not the end of it, they can also control the narrative and escape the consequences of their actions. 

Trash magazines always talk about an endless number of scandals in Hollywood’s stars’ households that are supposed to be dealt with in private.  Don’t think though that I’m forgetting that many celebrities make their family issues public on purpose because any marketing is good or how co-actors will have a stunt relationship to get the attention of the public on the film. Many celebrities even if not by will use their private lives to stay in the spotlight they often need to earn money. How morally acceptable is that, I don’t know. 

So, in conclusion, even though the media has some pretty good benefits to it as it is a way to express one’s self, it has many more downsides. For some, it creates an illusion of people having a perfect life, which is very damaging since one can feel bad for not having his/her shit together so to say. It can force you to be someone else, despite its aim being freedom. I believe pop media is often a poison to our society, with the ways companies, celebrities, and people use it forgetting about any moral code

-Мarzhan Shaimerdenova