Do you recognise this phrase? Well, if you’re a teenage girl like me, or just about anyone who has become a slave to this artificial world of likes, followers and filters which is just a few clicks away, then you most probably do. Where is your phone right now? Sitting on your desk or side table, in your hand, wickedly buzzing away in your handbag, throwing up swarming masses of notifications on your screen? Is it trying to get you to abandon the assignment on your desk or email from your colleague or the text message from your mother, for a quick glance at Kylie Jenner’s latest car or Addison Rae’s relationship status? Your glance will turn into a stare, a stare turns into a study and before you know it it’s been half an hour…no wait an hour, no now it’s four in the morning and you can hear the birds chirping. So yes, if you are a slave to the social media apps- the masters of your phone, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Tik Tok, then you probably do recognise the phrase I am referring to. You’ve heard it being said by school teachers and family members, the voice in your head after your brain acknowledges the six-hour screen time notification, or you might have seen models like Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Kaia Gerber post a mirror selfie with the phrase on their phone case. It doesn’t matter where you have heard the phrase really, because in any case it’s true, social media seriously harms your mental health. One of the ways social media deteriorates mental well- being is creating a set of unrealistic standards of life, damaging the self-esteem of young users, triggering anxiety, depression and eating disorders. You might not believe me yet, that’s fair enough, let’s play a game in the meanwhile. Open Instagram right now and I’ll tell you what you will see. You’ll see your favourite tik tok stars having dinner at saddle ranch (again) while you haven’t seen your friends in months due to a certain pandemic. You’ll see supermodels with their lean legs, stark cheekbones, fox eyes, thigh gaps, plumped lips and upturned noses, maybe you’ll start googling how much lip fillers cost, maybe you’ll skip dinner. You’ll see influencers, situated near the swarming masses of sky scrapers in Dubai (for work obviously!) while you have been surrounded by the same four walls of your bedroom. Perfection. You’ll see it everywhere. Perfect faces, perfect bodies, perfect families, perfect jobs, perfect houses, perfect lives. With each story you click on, with each post you see, it’s one more nail in the coffin of your mental health. Even if you know that the images on social media are manipulated, they can still make you feel insecure. When you’re seeing hundreds of posts everyday of people with such perfect lives, it is difficult to not feel dissatisfied with your own life. Every time you click on the small Instagram icon, you’re transported into a different world, a world where the people you follow are going on their fifth holiday of the year, or buying their seventh designer bag, or moving into an even bigger house. You’re told that it’s not real, that it’s all fake, but the proof is right in front of you, everywhere around you in this world people are travelling, shopping, tanning, eating, enjoying, you start to assume that this is how everyone truly lives and begin to become dissatisfied with the life you have. The life in the real world of recessions, mortgage payments, economy seats, bills, 9-5 jobs and rain. This life isn’t on the screen, it’s reality, but when you’ve been on your phone for more than half the day, you begin to forget the difference. Moreover, social media has helped create an unrealistic standard of beauty, which has increased body image and self-esteem issues. With the use of social media, we have created an entire generation of more anti-social, insecure and fragile young people. To prove this, let me take you on a time machine. It’s the 1990s. The skinny woman with a slender waist, lean arms, sharp cheekbones and long legs with thigh gaps are in full force. This changed in the 2000s, with the rise of social media. “Heroin chic,” was out and the “hourglass curves,” were in: we didn’t want a skinny woman anymore, we wanted her to have a figure. This led to a rise in breast augmentations and butt lifts as people became desperate to do anything to obtain the body type that littered their screens. African-Americans were historically made fun of for having big, full lips. However, in 2015, Kylie Jenner got lip fillers, starting one of the biggest trends of the decade, the lip filler trend. According to the American society of plastic surgeons the demand for lip fillers have increased by 50% since the early 2000s. Now in 2021 the hourglass figure is out, all around the world celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Kourtney Kardashian have ditched their implants and influencers have had their lip and cheek fillers dissolved for a more, “natural look.” The matte foundation and lipstick is out and replaced with dewy, glowing skin, lip-gloss and lots of blush. The, “natural girl,” is back in fashion. Do you see the problem here? Social media has begun to dictate the beauty standard. We see certain body types and facial features come in and out of fashion like a shoe or a handbag-as if we get to choose what type of breasts and lips we can have on a certain day. It is so deplorable that because of the rise of celebrities and influencers, their word, or rather their appearance has become as good as gospel. They start a trend and before you know it social media is able to choose what kind of appearance is deemed desirable. This negatively impacts mental health because the majority of people were not born with every component which deems them attractive or pretty by a couple of apps on our phone. Do you have stark cheekbones and a sharp jawline? Do you have a thin waist coupled with even thinner arms? Do you have a thin, upturned nose? Do you have uplifted, fox-like eyes? Do you have full, plump lips? These are the questions that teenage girls around the world ask themselves every day, because social media has created the false narrative that only one specific features or certain body types are attractive, and many people who do not have the snatched waist, prominent collarbones and flat stomachs which dominate our Instagram explore pages, Facebook feeds and Tik Tok for you page that they spend hours scrolling through, begin to suffer with eating disorders, body dysmorphia and an overall low sense of self-worth. However, while keeping in mind all the consequences of social media on your mental health it is important to remember one thing: whether it is Instagram, Twitter or Tik Tok, you will always be in control of who you follow and the type of content you see. If a person’s post are triggering self-esteem issues or inducing damaging thoughts about body image, then simply unfollow them. Social media has created this global fear of missing out, we are compelled to pick up our phones every few minutes, or compulsively respond to every notification whether we are driving, about to sleep, or have an exam in the morning. But it is important to remember that you are in control, so unfollow people who don’t add positivity into your life, mute people’s posts, schedule time limits for social media apps on your phone. It is highly unlikely that these co-operations would ever acknowledge the detrimental impact these apps have on us, rather it is up to us to take action.