By Rita on Sat May 30 2020

Peer pressure in layman’s terms is conforming to do things you normally wouldn’t do just because someone you want to be like or admire does it. Virtual peer pressure is basically that but the pressure stems from online, that is social media trends, online challenges and what celebs do. Virtual peer pressure is especially an important topic of discussion at this time more than ever, since as everyone is social distancing, using our phones and turning to social media as a way to pass time leaves us with so much time to just cruise through social media streets keeping up with what everyone is up to. 

We are going to explore forms and causes of virtual peer pressure and how best you can handle it as students, since you are more prone to fall into its clutches. As much as social media is effective in making life less boring and providing information at a blink of an eye, we definitely cannot deny its negative effect on us as, in terms of our mental health and how personalities, below find some causes of virtual peer pressure and how social media plays a big role in spreading it.

Social Media Addiction

How long can your phone stay put without going you picking it up to rummage through your social media platforms? Social media addiction is itself a form of virtual peer pressure other than being the tool that helps manifest it. It is no surprise if your answer to the question above is less than 5 seconds, why?  You constantly feel the urge to just know what your friends are up to, what everyone is posting and who is wearing what or which celeb is dating and which ones have broken up. Now that we have all this free time in our hands, the pressure to keep up is all the more amped. We are in a constant fear of missing out on what everyone is doing, so we scroll through platform after platform just staring at our screens and this might take a toll on our mental health because we just indulge too much. I personally feel guilty and unproductive because I constantly am on my phone following trend after trend and stalking celeb after celeb just to feel like I am part of the world.

Seeking Online Popularity

Having a huge following on social media platforms especially Instagram and twitter is the new craze, everybody wants in. We find ourselves feeling jealous because one of our friends has this massive following on social media and we want in. To students this is such a huge deal because a huge following on social media elevates your popularity in school and in your circle, hence we try so hard to get just that. Most students end up falling hard just trying to keep up and others even go to the extent of doing absurd things just to get the following, these include, taking racy photos, exposing and bullying others online, as well as living a lie to keep up with the gram. In an attempt to be popular on social media, we end up losing ourselves in the process without even realizing it.

Stalking

Social media seems to have given everyone the right and perfect tool to keep tabs on others, from celebs to our friends. It’s a constant nag to just know what a particular person is doing, who they are hanging out with, what they are wearing and which restaurants they go to eat. If it’s someone we like, we definitely want to wear what they are wearing, buy the perfume they are using, follow the people they follow just so we feel we are a part of their lives, if its someone we don’t like, we are on their pages looking for things to further not like them, are they broke? Are they being bullied? Are they still hanging out with so and so, is there any gossip about them I can share with my circle, we literally are pressured into being obsessed with the lives of other people and this is such negative energy to our general life well being.

Antisocial

Most people have succumbed to the virtual peer pressure of being anti social. Social media has virtually led us to believe that we don’t need human connection whatsoever and most people don’t realize this. Nowadays everyone thinks sending virtual hugs and liking messages is the way to feel connected and respond to our family and friends. How many times have you come across memes normalizing not picking up calls and making it sound so cool? Rather how many times have we shared such memes on our WhatsApp statuses and stories? Young people especially find virtual communication as the way to go and that social media is all the connection we need in the world, and we find it cool. It gives us the excuse to not indulge in physical interactions as of course everyone lisle is doing it why not you?

Change in Personality

Lately have you found yourself disliking something you used to like or enjoy say music just because the people you follow on social media don’t particularly like that type of music and you want to fit in with them. Or if you didn’t have interest or regard for something in the past but suddenly have a liking for it? That’s virtual peer pressure. I have found myself accepting ideas that didn’t sit well with me before, acceptable just because a person I follow online accepts the idea. Have you ever found yourself wanting to post pictures with certain clothes, just because you saw someone else do the same, even following people you normally wouldn’t just because so and so follows them. Virtual peer pressure literally makes us conform to personalities other than our just because social media perceives it as cool and passable. Most of us actually just function on the question will this be social media worthy?

Generally the point of this article especially to students is to make you think on how you use social media and how to handle virtual peer pressure. We have to understand the impacts of what we do online and how it affects our physical lives on a daily basis. Are you living your life or are you living a lie? Virtual peer pressure is real and it boils down to wanting to be you or wanting to keep an image to socially and virtually please others. If your find yourself using an alternate persona online rather than yourself, or ordering your clothes from online when you prefer physical shopping, or wanting to go out and take cute pictures to post on Instagram when you would actually prefer to reading a book indoors, then you know you have succumbed to virtual peer pressure and need to re evaluate your use of social media and its effect on your personal and mental health.

The most effective way of combating virtual peer pressure is to take time off social media and try to get back in touch with yourself, the physical world and well life offline. It is good for your mental health and your relationships. It is so tough handling the physical form of peer pressure that is in school settings, what of virtual peer pressure? Think about it. Healthy relationships and mental health are very important and no you do not need to be another person. Take time off and be present and in the moment! Let us know your thoughts on this in the comment section below.


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