Gen Z's Depression From Social Media

Raise Your Hand Logo.jpg

The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, October 6, 2019 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section.

By: Jayla Doyle, Roosevelt High School, Class of 2021

As you’re scrolling through social media, you come across your friend’s post of her eating lobster with her boyfriend next to the Eiffel Tower. You pause and realize you’re sitting on the couch alone, eating a bowl of mac and cheese made for one. The smile on your face lowers into a frown, and a sudden feeling of depression descends upon you. As the rate of social media usage increases, so does the rate of depression. Generation Z, those born between 1997 and the early 2000’s, has shown to have a higher rate of depression than any other generation. According to the American Psychological Association, Generation Z reports the highest percentage of poor mental health at 27%, making it 12% higher than the next closest generation. While this evidence alone doesn’t prove that social media is to blame, the effect on one’s psyche is undisputable.

A survey conducted by the Washington Post showed that 43% of Generation Z individuals admitted that social media negatively affects their self-esteem. As social media use continues to climb throughout each generation, people feel lost without their daily, hourly or even incessant checking of their social media accounts. With each glance and scroll through a newsfeed, people are susceptible to the negative forces that could cause them to fall deeper into depression. People experience feelings of depression from looking at social media because of the false reality of lives projected by friends, family, and celebrities coupled with the extensive amount of time people engage in that content. From what I see daily, social media is the first thing individuals go on once they unlock their electronic device. By using social media, we indulge in viewing what others around us are choosing to show us. This element of selectivity, purposely choosing the best part of their lives that they want to be seen, is what drives people to orchestrate photos, events, or situations that are worth posting online. It’s natural for people to compare themselves to what they see, but it is unnatural for people to continually hold themselves against unreasonably high standards.

As humans, we continually want certain objects or experiences that we lack. We want those things more when we see others having the time of their lives. It’s harder to deal with thisdesire when you’re constantly exposed to more content showing what others have or are doing. The Child Mind Institute, a national mental health nonprofit, reports that people who are suffering from low self-esteem, like those in Generation Z, are more likely to interpret images of peers having fun as confirmation that their own lives are comparatively boring, meaningless, and most of all, depressing. Kids struggling with self-doubt and low self-esteem read into their friends’ images as a representation of what they feel they don’t have. It almost becomes cyclical. The more you read, the more depressed you become, and as you become more depressed, you don’t want to do anything but scroll your finger in hopes of finding someone that feels the way you do--depressed.

Social media can have so many great uses and connect us to people we would otherwise not be able to. Unfortunately, it has also caused an increase in depression over generations, taking the highest toll on Generation Z. Maybe if everyone started posting the good and the bad in their lives as well as have the ability to freely talk about depression without fear of being shamed, then we could start making Generation Z a happier generation.

Look to Hawaii’s Past to Build Future

Raise Your Hand Logo.jpg

The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, September 1 2019 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section.

By: Bronson Azama , Castle High School, Class of 2020

An Native American proverb says, “Only when the last tree is cut, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” These wise words, warning humans of the bitter reality that money alone cannot sustain a population, are relevant in the controversy surrounding the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Protests have urged people to evaluate what exactly constitutes the idea of “progress” being championed by both sides. We must ask ourselves, what is progress? Is it just giving jobs to our people? Is it just science? Is it just technology? Can it be tradition? The conflict has created a false narrative pitting tradition against progress. The reality is that they are not mutually exclusive, and we can look toward tradition to move forward and create a better future.

Mauna A Wakea has already been impacted by destructive human activity. Chemical spills above a known aquifer in the 1980s and 1990s, the destruction of habitats for endangered species, and the disregard for religious practices have all reduced the sanctity of the mountain. These injustices must be weighed against the purported benefits of bringing jobs to the community and the continued study of the stars.

Although Hawaiians have always valued understanding the stars, we must also understand that Hawaiians practiced sustainability, bioengineering, and lived in harmony with nature. Although it is of great benefit to the astronomy community, TMT is simply not a sustainable practice. The question is: Do we look into space, or do we malama, take care of, this place? In the ahupua‘a of He‘eia, located on the Windward side of Oahu, the coexistence of science and culture is in full effect. Organizations such as the National Oceanic Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology (HIMB) have partnered with numerous community organizations in the area including the Ko‘olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, and Kako‘o ‘Oiwi, to create the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS).

The NERRS project is a partnership between government officials, community members and academia to integrate traditional Native Hawaiian agricultural practices with modern restoration efforts to improve the ecology of freshwater and saltwater ecosystems.

Currently in He‘eia, they are restoring ancient taro patches, better referred to as lo‘i kalo, and a loko I’a, or fishpond. The removal of invasive species has resulted in the return of native birds and fish. Let nature speak for itself that the land is healing through malama aina. The return of sustainable practices has opened a door in the present. Research to ver- ify how the ecosystem is improving, including the water quality and native birds and their behavior, help contribute to other restoration efforts.

Narratives dictating that tradition is not progress and that culture is not science need to be broken. For me, being able to drink water that comes from my aquifer without harmful chemicals and bacteria is progress.

Being able to swim in our bodies of water without worrying about infections is progress. Being able to eat food that grows from my land and fish that comes from my sea is progress. Having a home designed in harmony with nature is progress. Returning to our traditional concepts of life is progress. Sustainability, eco-friendliness and bioengineering, are ways to create and measure this progress.

Despite our different backgrounds, we must view each other as equals and work together to better Hawaii Nei through sustainable methods that have allowed us to thrive for so long. Honoring the past and using it to propel us into the future — now that is the start of progress.