Living in the era of technology,being a teenager means constantly being pressured by social media and criticized by people for the way a specific individual is.These negative impacts tend to affect how teens try to bury their true identity. All teens share the need of wanting to belong or fit in, even if that means redefining their true beliefs and principles.
In the novel, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, teenagers like Holden, the protagonist, are constantly criticized by their peers, thus bringing down their self-esteem leading them to believe they aren’t meant to succeed in life. When teens are criticized by their friends, teachers, or family, it affects their personality and future decisions in many ways. For example, Holden struggles on trying to figure himself out because he’s always criticized by his peers for his terrible grades and the expulsion from his previous school. His peers perceive him as simply being careless because of his low performance, but in reality, he is actually very intelligent. When students get a bad grade on an assignment, their peers are quickly to judge them to be either careless or dumb, but a grade does not depict who that person truly is. People growing up in this time period tend to lack the capability of being able to see situations in different perspectives.That person could be facing something very stressful or emotional and shouldn’t be so quick to judge upon, like Holden quotes, “I’m just going through a phase right now. Everybody goes through phases and all, don’t they?” (15). Another instance was when Mr. Spencer was frustrated that Holden didn’t apply himself in his class, so he pulled out his essay to prove that Holden does not care and showed his reaction by treating Holden’s paper with no respect, “he started handling my exam paper like it was a turd or something” (11). This frustrates Holden causing for him to “sort of hate him” (11). The criticism his peers present to him make Holden doubt himself since they already have such a bad mindset of him. This makes Holden care even less about school and everything else that is revolving around him. He feels lost and that he doesn’t belong anywhere, not even at his new school. An example that proves Holden is when he even tries to be a better student, “sometimes I act a lot older than I am-I really do-but people never notice it. People never notice anything” (9). The only person that makes Holden feel a sense of belonging is either Sally, Phoebe or Mr. Antolini. Each individually has made Holden feel accepted when no one else did. He speaks of Sally with much gratitude and says “I felt like marrying her the minute I saw her. I’m crazy. I didn’t even like her much, and yet suddenly I felt like I was in love with her and wanted to marry her” (124). This proving that Holden isn’t all about being careless or bad like everyone speaks of him. He reflects his deeper kept intentions of his caringness and consideration towards others.
In the article, “How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers” by Rachel Ehmke, she conveys to teenagers and parents being the reason for “anxiety and lowering self-esteem “(1) issues in teenagers today. Conforming to Dr. Donna Wick, “kids text all sorts of things that would never in a million years contemplate saying to anyone’s face”(7). Teens are always looking to fit in and be happy, but they don’t seek out opportunities to interact with one another because they are so worried and caught up with social media and trying to fit in. Dr. Wick also confirms the emotional effect that social media has, “kids are often left imagining the worst about themselves” (17). If teenagers today are put in a situation where they are asked to express themselves or what their opinion is over a topic, they feel uncomfortable and awkward because they have grown accustomed to only expressing those types of emotions through a screen and not in person.Causing them to miss out on the real world, they “are learning to do most of their communication while looking at a screen, not another person” (2). Social media also creates the ideal of having false support for teens who are trying to find themselves by creating a false identity of themselves. For example, when teenagers go shopping for clothes, their attention goes directly to whatever everyone else is wearing on social media, they aren't interested in expressing themselves to their true identity because they only care about belonging. Today's generation lacks individuality and uniqueness, all due to the influence of social media. Teenagers fall into depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem because they can’t find themselves in a world full of people who are similar to them. When teens attempt to be different they are criticized and labeled as “weird” or even “ugly”. So, when trying to be different from everyone else goes wrong, teenagers tend to feel alone and think of themselves as unworthy. With being so caught up in trying to belong to a group,they don’t tend to stop and think if that’s what they truly want for themselves. Dr. Steiner-Adair explains the effect it has,“the more identities you have, and the more time you spend pretending to be someone you're not, the harder it’s going to be to feel good about yourself” (13). With the truth being others opinions shouldn’t matter.
In Keith Ablow’s article “We Are Raising a Generation of Deluded Narcissists”, he implies to the readers that teens are “equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories”(2). Today’s generation highly focuses only on competing and being better than their peers. A study by psychologist Jean Twenge, proves that “the tendency towards narcissism in students is up 30 percent in the last thirty-odd years” (2). This proves that teenagers are not enjoying their life because of always trying to be better than everyone else and being someone who they are not. This false characterization of teenagers is a “real self-loathing and hatred of others that lies beneath all this narcissism rises to the surface” (10).Today’s generation grew up with the evolution of technology and social media, this places pressure and stress among teenagers by turning them into someone who they are not and makes them do things they never considered doing. The wanting of acceptance from other people is very important to teenagers and plays a major role distinguishing who they are. Teens today depend on social media to answer all their questions and to express their feeling. When doing so teenagers are often being judged and bullied simply for being themselves. On social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, teens on a daily basis look at other people and label them as “skinny” or “beautiful”;but they don’t think about the “mutual fanning of false love and fame” (4) those people are living. Teenagers tend to be quick on comparing themselves to others that they don’t ever stop to think how they are growing up and will eventually find their own unique self. Keith proves this by saying, “they’re doing anything to distract themselves from the fact that they feel empty inside and unworthy” (9). Social media brings down the confidence and self-esteem of teens simply due to the fact that teens lack self-love as they confuse social media as being the answer to all their problems.When teens look at someone’s pictures that are of bad influence like drugs, alcohol and sex they start to think about doing it to. Teenagers tend to want to do what everyone else is doing, which makes it so easy for them to wanting to try new things. The article states , “That’s why young people are higher on drugs than ever, drunker than ever, smoking more, tattooed more, pierced more and having more and more sex, earlier and earlier and earlier, raising babies before they can do it well, because it makes them feel special for a while” (9). Teenagers don’t realize the damage they are causing to themselves when using social media and following the bad influences they are exposed to. Thus causing a fake characterization of them.
A teenager’s identity is solemnly shaped by the impact of social media and criticism. The search for a teenagers true identity is by itself very difficult, as these aspects that constantly interfere with a teens everyday lifestyle makes it much harder. Social media affects teenagers in a way that it changes them only in a negatively way. Criticism received by people affects the life of a teenager, because it lowers their self-esteem and confidence.Instead, a teen ought to identify who they are by their own personal opinion and own moral values, not from social media or what others criticize them for.