An investigation of the destruction of self-esteem
Like everything else, the necessity to keep up with the Jones’ has evolved throughout the twenty-first century. With the rise of Internet culture, a powerfully driven capitalistic society, and the never-ending need to fit in, personal self-esteem is something that needs to be carefully protected and powerfully reinforced. The world was a very different place twenty years ago, and the effect that media had on people was different. This is not to say that it did not exist, or that it was or was not detrimental to the way people viewed themselves, but it was not deeply embedded in every space – a constant reminder that you may not stack up.
Today, everywhere people look they are surrounded; and worse yet, there is a lack of material that has not been altered in some way or another to make the focus something that is not natural – something fabricated to be visually appealing and to render itself a call to consumerist reflex. The altering and morphing that goes into making something or someone more visually appealing does not only take away from what someone is; it also triggers a response in the viewer to believe that they are not necessarily the best they can be, that they too can be changed by use of such a product or through material belonging – as if obtaining a piece of designer fashion makes you a higher-end human being or gives you a status.
Society will change and it will adapt, but the way in which society is socially driven will stay the same. The media will continue to be a strong presence in the lives of everyone who has access to technology or ventures outdoors. There is no way to hide from it or take oneself out of it. The only way to not allow the media to disrupt personal self-esteem is to understand it – to understand it deeply and to absorb it for what it is, realizing that the human mind is capable of rejecting media influence while accepting that this is no simple task.
Each person (today, from a very young age) is bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of visual and audible advertorial cues each and every day. These cues penetrate deeply, and until a person is capable of distinguishing the meaning behind advertorial materials, these cues are absorbed and embedded. To acknowledge that advertorial materials are targeted to young, easily persuaded individuals is a detrimental inevitability. This alone is reason to teach the youth of society, from a young age, what advertisement and the media is and how to protect oneself from the negative effect it can have when not understood correctly.
A lack of self-esteem is due to many factors and is a complex issue, but a partial culprit is undoubtedly thanks to the bombardment of unrealistic altered image of perfection in association with the human physical form. Adolescents spend a good deal of time on a regular basis watching television, browsing the internet and social media platforms, and looking at magazines – not to mention seeing movies and going to shopping malls. During these impressionable years, young people are consuming large amounts of advertisements that are displaying unnatural representations of the human body, and these can deeply affect how one views themselves in society and where they believe they should “belong.”
It is unrealistic to shelter people from today’s society, but it is critical to find and develop ways to ensure people do not absorb the wrong messages or allow themselves to have negative responses to them. Once the negativity sinks in, it is difficult to erase and it’s a lengthy process to recover the self-esteem that has been robbed unconsciously during the young years of life.
It is absolutely critical that people begin talking about strength of the hold the media has on people of all generations. It is crucial that people begin to create new methods of protecting themselves from the media through the knowledge and understanding of where it comes from, what its intended purpose is, and how it affects the psyche and human perception inwardly.
The University of Guelph's Independent Student Newspaper
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