How frequently do you check your phones to browse through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media sites? Of those moments, how many of those do you spend liking, commenting, or viewing other people's approval of your existence?
All of these questions are not meant to debase anyone, as I am also not above any of these characteristics. Every time, I log on to social media, it feels like my inner "basic girl" seeps back in. Each time I post something, I have this frantic need to see how many people liked it or have commented on it.
You may be thinking at this point that I am here to bash on social media and its use as an impersonal medium. While I do believe in the above statement, I do think that these media platforms have its perks. It has definitely allowed the ordinary man or woman to showcase his or her abilities, stories, and personalities. This is exactly where the contradiction lies: does it make you feel more or less lonely?
We do see both sides of this inquiry. On the one hand, we finally have this concept of being viral outside the realms of the medical world. One "like" can impact thousands of "likes" around the world, and one re-tweet can turn into millions. The danger in this is that this has destroyed people just as much as it has helped it. People have killed themselves due to cyber bullying, while other organizations have received recognition and praise for their philanthropic projects. Even though this is the case, I can assure you that there is a common denominator in both these cases. In my opinion, more likely than not, in both instances, the viewer is impersonal to the situation. Did you extensively know about the situation before you participated in the virality? How many of actually knew the organization or the victim of cyber bullying? You may have played a significant role in both, but truth is you may not have taken the opportunity to learn enough about the situation.
Once I realized this, I began to dismiss the use of social media for extended periods of time. I do this at the beginning of every year. Not only does this help to avoid distraction, it helps me to understand my surrounding simply by talking to people. I KNOW! Shocker right? Who knew that a good old human conversation would be the best cure?
Instead of relying on the trending headlines on social media, this forced me to read the news more and further research topics that I was unsure of. Most of the information that I had received about the political debacle of 2016 and international treacheries, like the massacre in Syria, were from misinformed news sites and highly opinionated college students. In hindsight, this had skewed my opinions on certain issues.
In the first months of the new year, I noticed the changes in the way that I view people. Instead of building a pre-conceived notion of them, I started to make friendships that felt more genuine. Unlike most times when I actually detest human communication, I developed a newfound sense of admiration in a conversation. I started to actually miss my friends once I was off social media, and when I met up with them it felt like the interactions were more holistic.
Again, I must remind you that I am not here to berate social media users. The platform is truly powerful and as Spiderman says, "With great power comes great responsibility." It truly depends on how you use this freedom. From time to time, I think that it is helpful to take a break from it to enjoy life in a more traditional way. Instead of messaging friends through social media, go outside to find them. Sit down and actually have a conversation with your family at the dinner table. Read well-informed editorials and research extensively on a background of your interest. Instead of checking out Facebook postings of an event, maybe check out some of the beautifully designed flyers on campus. Finally, leave some parts to the imagination. You do not need to know everything that is happening at every moment of every day.