Social media platforms have swept across the world since the beginning of the millenium, what with the foundation of Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2011, sweeping up millions of users across the globe and in the UK, with a particular influence over teenagers - statistics from 2018 show that 65% of British teenagers have an Instagram account and 62% of teenagers a Snapchat account, a large majority. And yet I am a British 15-year-old who has never in fact had any social media apps other than Whatsapp, a fact which often seems to surprise people - particularly because the void in my life which social media could have filled has in fact, to my knowledge, been utterly beneficial.

Social media has undoubtedly had its powerful moments of bringing people together. For example, there was of course the #MeToo movement, a term which was first coined by an activist named Tarana Burke in 2006, but surged in popularity in October 2017, when many actresses had the courage to speak out about the harassment they had been subjected to, following the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, which then gave millions of women from all walks of life the space to open up about the harassment they too had faced, an oppurtunity which arguably would never have been available had their not been social media platforms to spread awareness of the matter.

In addition, the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2013 created by three black activists, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi was formed in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer, George Zimmerman and is now a global campaign which aims to tackle unfair treatment of black communities worldwide - the hash tag had reportedly been used nearly 30 million times in 2018. It is another example of a simple but powerful sentiment that was allowed to gain momentum and blossom through the space of social media.

However equally so, unsurprisingly there have been many cases of young teenagers who have been bullied online or felt that they have been unable to attain the standards that social media seems to set for them and have suffered from mental health illnesses both short - term and long - term, as well as in a few cases young people taking their own lives - in fact the play 'Girls like That,' by Evan Placey, very aptly and realistically deals with what can happen when a photo of a person is shared without their consent

I was not allowed to have any social media accounts because my parents were worried about how they could negatively affect my self - esteem and mental health - and quite frankly I think it was the best thing that ever happened to me. As someone who has never had a social media account this is what I can honestly say - first of all, there are times when it can feel as if you are very lonely because everyone else is talking about, for example, a post on Instagram that you have no idea about. And it can, truly, make you feel isolated and as if you are the odd one out, a feeling that I have experienced many times.

But - more powerfully, it can be very liberating to not have social media - often I see the people around me scrolling for hours on end through the Instagram explore page, and I realise that if I were to spend my time doing this I would very soon start to compare myself to unattainable pictures and ideas that would quite honestly just make me want to strive to be something that I am not, something that these people, who have more often than not spent hours painstakingly trying to get the right angle desperate to achieve the P-word - perfection.

Because in truth, I think that by not having social media I have been allowed to fluorish as I am, without any pictures or posts telling me what to do or what not to do - these are decisions that I make for myself. Of course it is not my place to say whether this would work for everyone; the author Hunter S. Thompson once famously said, 'You can't miss what you never had,' which seems very fitting - but to any people who feel that they have been sucked into the vacuum of social media and are scared to escape it for a while for fear of missing out: there is nothing wrong with chasing a sunset or taking a beautiful picture just for yourself, without the prying eyes of hundreds of others - and life can go on without social media if you allow it to.