THIS or THAT
Is social media making us less social?
May 18, 2023
Dings, bings and fluttering vibrations are the sounds of notifications filling up cell phones and all sorts of devices from dusk to dawn.
In a time where technology is at our fingertips, social media apps have dominated everyone’s lives. Even post-pandemic, people of all generations seem to prefer social media to in-person contact. Q-R code menus, tablet payment at restaurants, businesses flourishing on social media outlets, it’s everywhere. However, even though communication is important, social media contact continues to dehumanize personal connections. Social media has been proven to increase loneliness, feelings of isolation and create unhealthy or unsafe relationships.
As high school students, or even as early as elementary, we are assigned iPads that become the center of our education. Essentially, while we are focused on becoming technologically advanced, we actually become much more reliant on it for everything. We rely on the keyboard to translate our messages.
Where is the face-to-face conversation? Asking questions and participating in group discussions? How do we create projects together? A keyboard can only take you so far.
Social media will bring the world to your fingertips and perhaps introduce you to places you never imagined, meeting people near you that you may have never known, but do you really know them? It is unhealthy to rely on social media to run our everyday personal interactions.
Teenagers have completely changed over time. The main force of communication centers around apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and an endless list of other platforms that we find ourselves wrapped around.
Even if we keep in touch with people over social media, we feel less connected than we would if we were having face-to-face interactions.
Social media gives us the illusion that we are socially connected. A number of followers or those followed become meaningless if we do not have the same relationship with them in an offline world. We are so inclined to follow our comments with an emoji because translating what we are saying, how we feel, or what we are trying to convey doesn’t come across. But is that emoji truly conveying how we really are acting or reacting? Are you really crying or laughing? We lose the emotional connection to one another. We lose the understanding and thoughtfulness to our relationships.
The fact remains that the virtual connection is not that same as face-to-face interaction. It is not a substitute.
Whether you’re into it or not, we should not live our lives through technology. We are unique human beings who were forced into a technological world due to COVID. Physical social interactions were almost non-existent. But we’ve risen from a time when our webcams and zooms tore us apart. We’ve since emerged from this time period and the physical interaction of today’s everyday life is far more humanizing and socially acceptable than the anti-social world of social media.
Right now, there’s a person out there who you could click with instantly if given the chance to meet them – the only issue is, they’re halfway across the country. Before the rise of social media, the chances of you meeting this person were slim to none. Now, all it takes is a few clicks, a couple of text messages sent, and you’ve created a new connection that would have been nearly impossible twenty-five years ago.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the only forms of social media existed as sites like Friendster and LiveJournal – ancient relics compared to Instagram and TikTok today. Back then, talking to strangers online was considered dangerous. Now, entire apps center around talking to strangers. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, social media is still great for many other reasons, such as finding jobs, picking up new hobbies, becoming educated on social issues, sharing one’s art and music, and more.
Though we’ve been told our whole lives not to talk to strangers online, social media can be incredibly beneficial to the social lives of its users – when used with the proper precautions. Because although the growth of social media has bridged geographical and cultural distances between millions, it also comes with undeniable negative consequences. However, dealing with and avoiding these issues is a matter of personal responsibility and social media cannot be solely blamed.
Despite the many benefits, the flaws that come with social media are hard to ignore. Studies show that too much social media use has adverse effects on mental health and attention span. Between the constant dopamine rushes that phone notifications feed us throughout the day, how idealized the lives of others look online, and our desire to fit in, it’s easy to get carried away. Countless studies have proven the negative consequences of social media over the past two decades. However, the results of these studies are due to personal use, not reflective of social media as a whole. In an increasingly online world, people need to find ways to regulate their own internet usage to avoid such issues.
With the growth of concerns over too much technology use in our day-to-day lives, ways to better regulate screen time have been introduced by various tech companies and apps. Some tech companies have added a feature that allows you to track the amount of time you spend on your phone and what apps you use the most. Apps like Instagram and TikTok have something similar. With this feature, you can not only track your screen time but also limit it. This is great for parents concerned about how much their children spend with technology, or just people looking to decrease their own screen time.
Overall, social media’s benefits should not be ignored due to the personal irresponsibilities of some. Whether you like it or not, technology is becoming a large part of every aspect of our lives more and more every day, and it’s up to you to determine whether your experience with it is negative or positive.