“Sticks and Stones” Takes on New Meaning in Social Media Age


The phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was made up by someone who never got called names. In society today, what people comment on Instagram or tweet about you defines you as a person. In both positive and negative ways these comments affect how you see yourself. Today’s society is heavily dictated by likes and comments that inevitably place us in detrimental categories. Unspoken, typed words are everything today and new words are used every day to describe people based off of their race, sexuality, gender, and religion.

As a teenager in the age of technology, I understand the importance of your image and perception, both figuratively and literally. In recent years, social media has become the main source of shareable entertainment that exposes you to judgment by others regarding your posts. It is so much easier to give your own opinion on a person’s life through a screen because the option is so widely available. In my opinion, the value of compliments has greatly decreased due to the artificial security that comes with being able to go on the internet and have hundreds, if not thousands of people compliment you, but with this also comes the negative aspect of being able to have opinions on anything and everything posted on the internet.

Society is essentially the ruler of all things. This includes how we dress, communicate, interact, and more. Being subjected to hateful words and comments definitely has a great impact on a person’s self worth and can greatly affect mental health. Derogatory words are used to put people in stereotypical “boxes.” Every day we see new posts from our favorite celebrities advertising the newest beauty and fashion trends and we conform to society to fit in and fill the standards set by that celebrity, and ultimately society. Throughout my Instagram feed I have found so any new ways to improve myself that I have lost count. Whether it be an ad for eyelash extensions or a waist trainer, we see these products and want to buy them. We tell ourselves that we are confident in our own bodies but need these things to feel even better about ourselves. We lose a sense of security in ourselves every time we purchase one of these “life-changing” products. If you do not conform to society, and instead act differently than what is advertised, you will most likely be called out for it on all forms of social media. Instead of celebrities endorsing the acceptance of your flaws, they encourage you to alter your appearance and transform into a more suitable member of society.

From my own experience, I can tell you how the words of my peers have affected me. Whether that be comments on my Instagram, words said to me in person, or statements made behind my back, these words have stuck with me to this day and probably will for a long time. Being a recipient of both positive and negative commentary, I know how both can affect someone. Just recently, I attended a prom and posted a picture in which I received multiple comments complimenting me on my dress, hair, and makeup, and I smiled as the notification of another comment was added to my picture. In the midst of all the excitement I remembered times when people had not commented so many positive things and I felt a genuine appreciation for the many people who reached out to me. Despite the positivity that came with the compliments I received, I knew that someone somewhere was not going to like my dress or the way my hair looked and even though they might not have commented it, I would still find out. Whether they told someone and that person told me or I heard them talking about it myself, I knew that no matter how confident I felt about my appearance, I was not going to live up to the beauty standards placed on me by society.

Today, social media plays a significant role in how we conform to standards. The phrase “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”was probably said by someone whose self worth was not determined by how many likes or comments they got on a picture. Words the power to spread positivity, but they also have the power to hurt. Since social media is such a significant part of everyday life, the words used on those platforms affect how we see ourselves and others.

Please share our stories: