Not So Social Media

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I’m waiting outside of my journalism class along with a small group of my classmates. I look up from my phone, a pause in my scrolling through twitter, and see six people doing the exact same thing. A thought passes through my mind: wow, we’re really addicted to our phones these days. Then I look back down and keep on scrolling. No acknowledgement to one another, no eye contact, no socializing. Ironic, since we’re all so absorbed in our “social” media. 


Apparently, I’ve been on my phone for an average of 41 hours and 21 minutes this week. At least that’s what my iPhone’s Screen Time tells me, and it’s not even the end of the week yet. Not surprisingly, social networking is where I have spent most of my time, 10 hours and 21 minutes to be exact.     


So why do we all have our phones stuck to our hands at any given moment? I’ll be the first to admit that I may be the most guilty of it. The moment I begin my walk to class, my phone is in my hand and I’m refreshing my Instagram feed or Snapchat, even though I checked it two minutes ago. Because what if I actually have to make eye contact with people? What if I see someone that I’ve only met a few times?


If I’m looking down at my phone, I can just ignore it. Instead of wondering if I should smile and wave— problem solved. (Though I promise I’m not that much of an introvert.)


But what about when this all starts directly affecting our lives? We sit at the dinner table with friends or family but instead of actually socializing with each other, we’re glued to social media. We see social media influencers and wish we could have the “perfect” body, the “perfect” skin, the “perfect” life that they have. Class ends and the first thing we do is pull out our phones to check our notifications. But it comes at a cost: our self-esteem, our connection to the people and things around us.


The effect of social media on our lives is backed by research as well. According to The Independent, new research has been done by Lancaster University and Friedrich-Alexander Univeristät in Germany which found that “the more frequently [users] logged in to [Facebook], the more likely they would be to remain on the site.” As a result, “using different elements of the platform over a longer timeframe led to an increased likelihood of technology addiction, which they nicknamed ‘techno-stress.’” Essentially, the use of social media leads to stress from the platform, which we then try to cope by using some other form of that social media. It’s an endless and unhealthy cycle of addiction.


So In this age of electronics, I have a feeling that our addiction to our devices will only get worse. But we can start to be more conscious about it. Try to be aware of how much time you’re spending on your phone because in the long run, you’ll never get that time back. I’m never going to get back those 41 hours and 21 minutes that I spent on my phone instead of on things that I should actually care about: my friends, my family, school. 


Will things ever change? Maybe I’ll finish writing this and really will vow to spend more time connected to the outside world rather than connected to wifi. I may actually try to change this terrible habit I have. 


Or maybe not. To be honest, I’m sure that the moment I close this computer I’ll pick up my phone to check some form of social media, like I always do. But one can dream. So for now, I’ll try my best to step back from it every once in a while, even if I still pick it back up in the end.