We can’t stay away.
It’s simple enough to see that social media has changed our world drastically in a short matter of time. Now, we cannot imagine a world without it. We check it countless times a day, we share what we are eating, where we are going, what we are buying. We share our views on current events, complain about the jerk at Starbucks and humblebrag about our gym workouts. It’s what we do. And that is fine.
But when does the net of the world-wide web become less of a way to reach out and grow and more of a trap. When does social media hinder us from actually being social?
Don’t mistake me, I love many things about Facebook and Instragram and Twitter. I enjoy seeing what close friends who live states away are up to every week. I’m the girl who will actually click-through all 122 pictures of your beach vacation. I enjoy browsing through the adorable photos of your kids and your pets. I like to see the life updates of acquaintances; new jobs, engagements, weddings, babies, new homes, graduations. I like seeing you do fun and happy things with your loved ones.
I enjoy celebrating and documenting my life and updating friends and family on outings, life updates, and fun photos. I support your choices and will validate them with likes galore.
But somewhere I have to draw a line. Lately I’m becoming more and more angry with social media. Lately it feels like the rude uninvited party guest that crashes the party, eats the last of the nachos, brags about how awesome their life is, talks badly about every guest behind their backs, and makes you go home early feeling miserable about yourself.
Social media has every characteristic of a toxic friend:
It’s Rude: Social media intrudes into every aspect of our lives. It’s there in between my husband and I in bed. In the morning we both reach for our phones rather than reaching for each other. On our commutes we bury our heads in our phones, scrolling through our Instagram and Twitter feeds instead of having some quiet contemplation time. We sit down to catch up with our spouse and refer constantly to “awesome” articles we read online, or a blog post that caught our attention, or the newest cat video. It’s hard to imagine a conversation that does not include at least one reference to something we saw online.
Are we even thinking for ourselves anymore? At get togethers with friends, Facebook is causing silence as we “check in” to restaurants and share pictures of our meals and post statuses saying what an awesome time we are having. But are we?
It’s Needy: Social media sucks us in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost 30 minutes or more of my life just trolling through Facebook and Twitter. How many times I’ve back stalked someone on Facebook or looked through countless photo albums. Or when one link on twitter leads to reading 6 BuzzFeed articles. Social Media is that annoying friend that says you never spend enough time with them. They always want more.
It makes us feel miserable: People only present their ideal lives on social media. You will never see people posting repeatedly about their colic baby, their vomiting dog, their annoying in-laws, their leaky roof, or how their spouse is driving them absolutely nuts. Social media bullies us into thinking our lives are miserable compared to what we see online. Similarly it also makes us feel like our lives aren’t worth living unless we have perfect things to share online. The comparison games leaves us feeling joyless and worthless. We think the things that makes us happy aren’t true unless someone validates them.
It’s a Dictator: The other week I was catching up with a friend at her house when I witnessed her baby walk from one end of the room to the other. I let our a “woot!” and asked when this milestone happened. My friend responded, “oh last week, didn’t you see the video I posted on Facebook?”. Unless you are constantly checking your feed your are apt to miss out on people’s exciting news.I can’t tell you the last time I had a lengthy phone call with a friend or when news was spread personally rather than a big announcement on social media.
Facebook dictates social news. It has taken over as the way to learn about your friends lives, rather than actually, you know, be social with them on a one to one situation.
It delivers false promises: Social media promises to make us feel connected to one another. In turn we feel the need to constantly check our news feeds, fearing that we may miss out on some fun story, news, or event. We want to be part of everything. But our FOMO (fear of missing out) makes us so disconnected from ourselves, our needs, that we eventually miss out on what is most important – what makes us happy as individuals.
We are promised community a place to share ourselves and find someone else that will say, “me too!” Instead we have turned into a society of people so desperate for a sense of connection that we sit with our eyes buried in social media blind to the fact that our loved one sits right next to us doing exactly the same.
Has social media made us all socially awkward? Has it made us lose touch with our independence? In a world of selfies have we lost all sense of self? We declare that selfies are a way to show our uniqueness, our own special beauty. But if we are all so proud of our own beauty, why do we need to share it 5 times a day and constantly check to see how many likes we have received?
Where is the line drawn between sharing, documenting or celebrating your life and searching to one up your friends and acquaintances and prove that you live a worthy life?
I don’t know how to escape it when it’s all around us. We’re headed to Jamaica for a family vacation soon and even my mom was surprised when I said I wasn’t going to take advantage of the free wi-fi at the resort. Escape is hard to find when you live in a world where everyone around you is dependent on social media.
I find a time everyday where I simply put down the phone. We try to have a no phones allowed time each night and stay off of Facebook in bed. But when our cellphones are the only way for family and friends to reach us in times of emergency we can’t simply put down the phone and walk away for a long period of time.
So I want to know. Where do you draw the line with social media?