As a 22-year-old millennial, I’ve grown up on the edge of two worlds; pre- and post- social media. As a 90’s baby - before the age of iPads or the popularity of touchscreen phones - the first decade or so of my life was kept fairly pure of any and all social media; I spent my time building stick forts outside, catching frogs in ponds and rolling down hills. When I went to any kind of restaurant with my parents, the main source of entertainment was building sculptural works of art out of my meals or having foot wars with my older brother. I played with dolls and spent hours upon hours making tiny clay figures with a material called “Sculpy.” For the first decade of my life, I had no idea what the internet was. My parents didn’t allow me to get a cellphone until I was about thirteen-years-old, and even then, I didn’t actually have any use for it. What good is a cellphone to a thirteen-year-old?
The latter half of my so-far two decade life has been universally different to the preceding half. Facebook was bad enough, but it was all downhill when I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon my senior year of high school. After that, the rest came rolling in - Instagram, YikYak, Pinterest, Snapchat, and for a short time, an app called Fade. My rolling social media snowball grew bigger and bigger each year. In the past five years, it would not be far fetched to say that, a majority of the time, I have spent more hours on social media sites in one sitting of a single day than I spend outside for an entire week. I’m not proud of this - in fact I’m pretty ashamed of it. I think I was much happier and healthier of mind as a young fledgling chasing frogs and salamanders.
One sunday morning, I went to Young’s Restaurant for brunch with my boyfriend. At such a popular hour, the restaurant was fairly busy. We were seated at a booth, ordered drinks and browsed through the menu. Sitting across from us was a mother and her two sons; one of them appeared to be around the age of six, the other maybe nine or ten. Their table was completely silent, not a word was exchanged. The mother gazed off into the distance while one son was mesmerized by an ipad and the other by an iphone. Their concentration did not falter for even a second, not until their food was delivered to their table. I looked at my own iphone 5s sitting on the table next to my menu and glass of orange juice. How many times had I done the same thing? Ignored my boyfriend, a friend, my parents, while at a table with them because I was too concerned about something that was occupying my phone screen? I picked my phone up off the table, switched it to silent and stuffed it into my purse. Since then, I've stopped using my phone at restaurants, stopped leaving it on the table during meals. Even if that meant that I couldn’t Snapchat or Instagram or tweet the food I was about to consume. Because yes - even if I didn’t snap a pic of it, I still ate it.