A loud buzz shows a notification on Amys phone. That little red heart on her phone screen makes her feel so loved and appreciated, yet the joy is only short lived. Something is missing. Amy doesnt feel like herself; like shes wearing a mask. Most teens have shared Amys feeling at one point while using the internet. Masks allow one to put on a different identity, whether it is out of fear or to hide personal insecurities, the individual cannot be truly seen. Social media and emotional masks have created a harmful effect on the new generation. Social media has become the center of teenage society. It is an obsession and a necessary part of human interaction. The younger generation uses the internet as a space to accumulate self-worth. It makes aspects in life that are normally difficult have this facade of being easy, for example, making money, fear, or building friendships. These platforms have become toxic, dangerous places where teens feel the need to cover their true identities. Due to the increased uses of social media platforms, more people are encouraged to wear masks and accept the mask of others, ultimately ruining one’s ability to truly connect to other people. Social media has dangerous and damaging effects on existing relationships. The philosopher Socrates warned people that new technology was a threat to the oral tradition of Greek society. This is evident today because online relationships are rarely separated out from ones offline relationships (D. Miller, Online and Offline Relationships 100). Online relationships are separate from the real world. Social media forces people to wear a mask in the real world, which changes societal lives and practices. Classic ideas of family time and friendship are not as important in teens lives. These connections shape who one is as a person and their morality. In todays society, social media is vital to maintenance of basic family relationships (105). Using social media to maintain these crucial relationships, means that one is making family connections with a mask. A teenager will be fearful to be themselves because they have become accustomed to wearing a mask. This ultimately leads to social problems such as cyberbullying. Teens have not built up morality, so they do not really understand the effects. Younger peoples use of social media within their households has made them unable to correctly interact with one another. This harms their future in the real world. Human connections are necessary to thrive in life. They need to learn how to make relationships within their communities, without masks. Cyberbullying is one of the most talked about risks of social media use among teenagers (Martin et al. 215). Online harassment is a problem because children hide behind masks so they can not truly see how others are affected. The emotion is taken out of the action. When they see the subject in real life the whole experience is changed. This can emotionally scar someone and make them feel lonely. Human relationships hurt due to masks can be seen in The Crucible. The Puritan community and all the people in it wear masks like social media users. We can see this effect on relationships because no one built real connections. No one really took the time to get to know one another. John Procter knows now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old Pretense is ripped away. It is a providence, and no great change, we are only what we were but naked now (A. Miller 297). The community wears masks around other church member, church leaders, and their families as well. Everyone was willing to turn on each other during the witch trials, even family. John Proctor wears the mask of a perfect, religious man when in reality, he is a lustful, cheater. During the witch trials, he was conflicted with either to sacrifice his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth, or his outward identity to the public. Ultimately, he took his mask off in order to save his wifes life and their relationship. The community sees who he really is and felt upset and vengeful. There is lots of distrust and suffering from Elizabeth because of the mask Procter wears. In reality, he thought of Abigail from time to time. But [he] will cut off [his] hand before [hell] ever reach for [her] again. Wipe it out of mind (257). The mask allows him to have an affair with Abigail. He acts like his true lustful self when he was with Abigail. When teenagers discover the masks of others after creating relationships online they are left confused and feeling like they never knew the person. When people remove their masks created by social media they are left vengeful and hurt just like Procter left the church members feeling. They are shocked and fear the dangerous possibilities of being in, what feels like, a fake relationship. When one person wears a mask in a relationship the other person ends up hurt and suffering, such as Elizabeth. Showing a dishonest version of yourself by wearing a mask creates fear in one’s mind, causing fighting and confusion in relationships. Some people wear a mask for personal gain and selfish intentions. The preacher Jonathan Edwards writes to the Puritans that The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully proved his wrath towards you burns like fire (229). Edwards wants his listeners to fear him so he can act a dominant figure in their lives. All the facts of his sermon allow him to have control. He has his own personal insecurities. The people act as if they trust his directions and leadership when in reality, they are just scared of the stories and the possibility of hell. He has selfish intentions. There is increased difficulty when creating and developing relationships using social media. When building relationships in real life, people are reduced to their profiles (Turkle 18). Teens can be completely different from whom they put themselves to be online. Using these online platforms allows for young people to avoid knowing the necessary background needed to create relationships. Relationships between teens are very surface level because social media itself creates problematic conditions for relationships to start. (D. Miller, Social Media and Social Relationships 109). The masks teens wear are these conditions. When people make an advance and then ends up being rejected, with all the subsequent damage to their self-esteem (103). Teenagers are worrisome and want to be accepted. Fearing the opinions of others causes one to put on a mask. They are unable to interact with each other without the mask. No one can truly get to know someone. A new focus on internet relationships forces people to neglect relationships in real life. It is a selfish mindset, which ultimately creates distrust in others. Masks hurting the start and development of new relationships can be seen within Stuart and Skeeters relationship. Skeeter can still see the anger on Stuarts face from when the Senator mentioned Patricia. [She glances] at him every few seconds, but the anger doesnt seem to be fading (Stockett 267). Stuart wears a mask to protect his own feelings and hide the pain from his past relationship. When his family made it clear how crucial Patricia was to their family unit, his mask began to crack, showing his true feelings of hurt. Skeeter begins to see that she never really knew Stuart and Stuart never knew her. Skeeter worries that he has no idea how many people [she] is lying to (273). She wears a mask to protect Stuarts view of herself. He has harsh feelings toward civil rights because of his father therefore, he does not want to ruin the family reputation. Skeeter fears that he would not accept her work with the maids. With these masks, they never got to know each other. Her lies also contribute to the dishonesty in their relationship. When one does not know a person they are unable to make honest connections. Social media acts as a mask to its users. Teenagers making connection believe that they are getting to know a person. They do not take into account that the other person can be hiding their past and secrets out of fear. The way relationships, either friendships or romantic relationships, grow all depend on how they are created. Starting relationships with masks that social media normalizes, clearly creates issues and distrust, ultimately failing in the future.Taking off masks can be freeing to a person. In Into the Wild, the mask of Christopher McCandless truly restricted his life. Wayne Westerberg discovered from a tax form that McCandless real name was Chris, not Alex. He never explained why hed change his name (Krakauer 18). Christopher McCandless was not his true self; it is a mask. Once he was able to disconnect from the pressures of his parents and society, he found his true self as Alex. McCandless discovered more about a humans purpose. When he was Alex, he was able to make real relationships. For example, he created a fatherly relationship with Wayne Westerberg. He could not create this same relationship with his biological father as Chris. McCandless realized that he hated the impending threat of human intimacy (Krakauer 55). Letting go of masks creates a new perspective of life, which allows one to find purpose and truth as Chris did. When masks are removed, one can make a real connection and find a reason to live. Being one’s true self on social media and taking off masks would bring teens such a sense of relief. They would be able to block out all of the pressures from society and stop using social as a way to hide from what they dislike in the real word. When McCandless did this he enjoyed and felt filled in his life. Masks have a crippling effect on humans. Due to the increased use of social media by young people, masks have become normalized and accepted. The masks that social media creates hinders teens ability to develop real and honest relationships. These relationships have proven to be detrimental to the growth of a teen. The future of society is dependent on teens realization of these masks. Once masks are removed most people will be able to find purpose, be honest, and improve society. Teens being reluctant to remove their mask has created nothing but laziness and stress. Edwards, Jonathan. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” 1741. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Literature Grade 11, edited by Carol Jago, iBook ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, pp. 227-31. Accessed 20 February 2019. Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York, Anchor Books, 1996. Accessed 20 February 2019.Martin, Florence, et al. “Middle School Studentsâ Social Media Use.” Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 21, no. 1, 2018, pp. 213-24. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26273881. Accessed 20 February 2019. Miller, Arthur. “The Crucible.” 1953. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Literature Grade 11, edited by Carol Jago, iBook ed., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, pp. 242-344.Miller, Daniel. “Social Media and Social Relationships.” Social Media in an English Village, vol. 2, UCL Press, 2016, pp. 92-121. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1g69xs1.8. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.Miller, Daniel, et al. “Online and Offline Relationships.” How the World Changed Social Media, vol. 1, UCL Press, 2016, pp. 100-13. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1g69z35.14. Accessed 13 February 2019.Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. New York, G.P Putnam’s Sons, 2009.Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. New York, Basic Books, 2011. Accessed 20 February 2019.
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