Remember life before the internet? Well, you probably don't but I assure you it was quite the time to be alive. Our nights out didn't revolve around attaining the perfect selfie. "Followers" weren't some status symbol. If you didn't like the way you looked in a photo, well too bad, it's been developed and your mom already sent it out on the Christmas card.
Back then, before Snapchat and group texts, sometimes you would send someone in class a note and not only would they not respond immediately, but the teacher would likely read the note aloud to the entire class about how cute Joey looks today. And you thought sending the screenshot to the wrong person was dramatic...
It was a different time. Not simpler, not harder. Just different. I myself went through high school during the birth of the social media era. MySpace was all the rage and your top 8 provided a deep insight into your inner circle and which of your friends you were most likely to move in front of a speeding vehicle for.
Looking back now, I wish we'd never done that. I wish we'd never adopted likes as the currency of positivity. I wish we'd been less transparent with the fake versions of ourselves and more honest about who we were behind filters and Dashboard Confessional lyrics.
We were all so amazed at this new way to connect, this new way to express ourselves, that we didn't stop to think about the monster we were creating. For some of us, it's easy to relish in the time before. But what about all of the young people who really do believe that social media is the cornerstone of their identities? How is this massive, exploitative, always-on thing impacting their senses of self-worth and their level of attention to the world around them?
It seems like everything now is motivated by our compulsion to post online. I've gotten so insecure about my own social presence that I frequently ask myself when taking a picture or writing a soliloquy about Trump, "Who is this really for?"
I'm constantly telling myself I need to get better at writing succinct and witty things, but why? For Twitter? It shames me to say yes. I feel that way because someone told me good writers get noticed on Twitter. So now, this thing that was meant for fun and to connect is what will determine the future of my career? That's really just a little too heavy for me.
What scares me most about this social media epidemic sweeping the globe is that if someone as level-headed and aware of the negatives as me feels so exhausted by life online, how do the people who really live there feel? What does the mental health of an influencer really look like? Having to constantly portray one face (a happy, perfect, flawless face at that) can't be the road to true happiness. Conning followers into buying belly fat reducing serums that don't actually do anything must leave one with a pretty empty feeling.
Social media has a lot of good things going for it, but how we use such a momentous tool will determine what it provides for future generations. Basically what I'm getting at here is stop doing everything for the gram and just live your damn life.