Social media, the thing we eat, breathe and sleep. Around for years now, it's slowly seeping into the lives of everyone around us, including us as a whole, and digging in deep to facade the lives we actually live. Whether you used MySpace back in the day or are now up to date with the endless platforms of this day in age--Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.--social media really cuts you to the core.
I don't think I've ever gone a day without checking at least one of them, which is the sad, harsh truth. We're in the year of 2017, brand spanking new, fresh off the cutting board, ready to face what this year has to come. We're off posting pictures on Instagram, tweeting the ever infamous "new year, new me" tweets, and checking our Facebook feeds as if it's our last thing to do on Earth. The effect social media has is tremendous in the year of 2017, and it's only going to become more influential in years to come.
The various platforms give us insight into one's life or, at least, the parts they show us. Who they are, what they're like, how they carry themselves, who they want to become. People strive for it. They live for that day by day post from one of their friends, their crush, a family member, or even themselves.
We live in a world where something funny or amazing or cruel will happen, and someone goes "Oh my gosh, I have to tweet that." What happened to the phone calls instead of texts? Or the emails instead of DMs, or the letters instead of defining everything through the millions of wireless transmissions buzzing through the air from one iPhone to another?
I never really grew up in a time where there weren't social media and there weren't cell phones and you actually had to pick up the phone, call your friend, and ask them to come over. I never grew up in the vast world of love letters or letters to loved ones far away. I never got to experience a life without the itch at my skin to check social media.
There is such a vast effect that social media has held over millennials over the years, and it's only going to continue to grow. Sure, one can say it advances your relationship with another, constantly having them there, constantly checking in on each other's lives. But what happens when you face the real world and they're not the person they claim to be in their hundreds of Instagram pictures and thousands of tweets?
Our social media accounts show that we sketch the life we want to live.
We only ever give the good stuff. People only ever see the posts you give them. So, is that really us? Or do we hide behind the hundreds of pictures and thousands of tweets?
Everyone is always so strung up on the number of likes they get, or the number of favorites their post will get, or the "Is that post was really good enough or should I delete it?"
According to NPR, UCLA conducted an observational research project in 2016 where they observed 32 teen's brains while scrolling through an Instagram feed. Vedantam states: "We found that when a photo had more likes, it generated greater activation in the reward centers of the brain. This was true of all photos, including photos the kids had taken themselves." So, if that's the case, how do we fix it?
The fact of the matter is, really, that we don't. There's no plausible way to fix something that makes you feel good, something that feels rewarding. Social media has such a dig in one's life that it's hard to just take a step back and say, hey, maybe my run is done here, the show is over.
So we keep the tape rolling, lengthening out the credits longer than what they need to be. It's a never ending cycle, a never ending movie. People are so strung up on it, so indulged. People dig into social media like a chocolate molten lava cake from the fancy restaurant they could be dining at, had they taken a break from the world of other people for just a minute.
So we live our lives vicariously screen to screen when 30 years ago, people lived their lives face-to-face. The effect of social media soars through the world, one device to another. We can't stop it from growing, and we definitely can't stop it from changing. The world we live in is so prone on that next post you're about to give, or that next picture you're about to Instagram. We wait for someone to post a Snapchat story, or wait for someone to tweet something. We get our hopes up, only to be let down, and sometimes it really hurts.
Social media has its good to it, and it has its bad. Sometimes we see things we don't want to see, and we know well more than we should or care to. Coming from me, a teenage girl with friends in college hundreds of miles away, social media is a bliss. It truly is a great way to keep up on the latest dig, keep in touch with friends and family, and just to check in. But sometimes, just sometimes, it almost feels suffocating in a way. You can never really catch a break. It's always there, constantly asking for your attention, needing you to spark the energy with the tap of your finger to make it come alive.
Maybe sometimes it's better to take a step back. Maybe sometimes the show really is over, but we just try to keep on living it.