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The Federation of Catholic Secondary Schools Parents Association ran an essay competition this year to raise awareness of their organisation and to test the level at which young people today can engage with the world around them and the challenges it presents. Over 30 schools nationwide participated in the competition. The winner in the Junior section was one of our second years,Karolina Smirnovaite.
Karolina won a prize of 100 Euro for herself and 500 Euro for the school.

Her winning essay can be read below. Well Done Karolina!

Me, Myself and Social Media, by Karolina Smirnovaite 3rd Year

A deep spiral of intangible webs designed to trap you in; designed to grasp its victim. To attack the defenseless; to soak up and detect all information; to sell this meaningless data that fundamentally makes up who are as a person to companies that make profits out of your habits and desires.

Dopamine attracts almost any individual. It is a critical necessity for our brain functions such as sleeping, eating, thinking, and moving. It plays a major role in the reward and motivating behaviour that we experience daily.

This comes into play with how social media is becoming another addictive substance in our society. Our brains are less likely to do an anxiety riddled activity and get the same amount of dopamine that can be achieved by resting on your bed double tapping on your screen. With minimum to zero effort into getting these dopamine hits we are rewiring our brains to become distressed without the constant routine we have set with our social media usage.

Humans are the living embodiment of temptation. We cannot resist the small pleasures we seek in everyday life and what better way of grasping that pleasure is by yielding to the temptation.

I dare say that most people I know have at least fallen into the trap once –including myself. We live in a society that would much rather prefer staying inside posting about political and religious opinions and why the other person is wrong; when in fact an opinion can never be wrong, that is why it is an opinion. This is our downfall. We live in a society that makes it acceptable to allow spiteful hate to be thrown around by hidden names and icons.

Indeed, social media has connected millions of people; for better or for worse, it has allowed us to expand our thought process and how we should interact with different people. It arguably so has also taught us how to respect different cultures. Along with memes and your favourite celebrities tweets social media has also brought a massive amount of awareness towards issues that need to be spoken about and discussed but are just swept under the rug by our government and local news stations.

But all of this for what cost?

Will the internet and social media continue to increase depression and anxiety levels in teens? Will social media continue to reduce sleeping hours and lower school performances?

Now we see children suffering from separation anxiety, but it’s not because their mothers dropped them off on their first day of school and they feel overwhelmed and lost but instead children are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when their phone gets taken away from them.

But who am I to go around saying any of this to you when in actual fact I’m a pretty average fourteen-year-old girl who likes to pretend her life doesn’t revolve around social media and others –but sadly, it does. And no matter what I or anybody else says the desperation to thrive and to be someone exciting; to be someone who’s mysterious and different is so engraved into many of our brains that truthfully, I don’t think we will ever get to put a stop to the over usage and damaging effects of the internet.

If there is one thing I would like for you to take out of this essay is the simple analogy that we are just very tiny, minuscular, micro insects. Nothing is ever free on the internet, be aware of that. If we are not careful enough our worst enemies might appear. The spider will always keep track of that very tiny insect in its web. The spider may be a police officer or a government official it may even been your very own friend. Don’t expose too much of yourself.

This is coming from a fourteen-year-old that knows nothing about life and sits around all day on her phone but I hope today and every day you see the beauty in the world that you hold in the palm of your hands. Yes, social media can be harmful and dangerous; it can even be mind altering at times but does it really hurt to take a picture of that beautiful sunset you’ll see this evening and post it online to show everyone the best moments of your life.