It’s clear that social media has taken over our everyday lives. We can’t go out without checking in online or posting pictures of how much fun we have. There are many positives to social media, like connecting with old friends, networking, engaging creativity, starting a business, planning events, and communicating with others. No one can deny how innovative social platforms are in this regard, but at what cost? Social media creates an unrealistic expectation of what life should be. People tend to post the highlights of their days without acknowledging the messy bits that make up a life. You can’t escape the watchful, judging eyes of your peers, or the overwhelming pressure of always being on display. Not only that, but kids these days lose focus and become too involved in their technological life, rather than their real life happening around them. We can all agree that it is important to advance with technology; however, these advancements tamper with the natural learning process for adolescents. So, while you dedicate your life to your smart phone, take a moment to consider what you are gaining.
Picture Perfect? Maybe Not So Much
For most teens and adults alike, it is important to never be embarrassed. You must always look like you have total control of everything. Don’t you dare be unhappy and show it, because that will just bring everyone else down. Even younger generations start to get a sense of how detrimental this is to their growth.
Social media has encouraged comparison within our culture. It is easy to feel down if you aren’t living the extravagant life your peers seem to be living online. For example, if your friends always post pictures lounging in residential hot tubs and spas when you spend your afternoon studying, you may start to resent their luck. It is also so much easier to feel left out. With friends always checking in or posting about their other relationships, you may start to feel like less of a priority for them. Or, think about how hurt you were when everyone else was invited to the party and you see you were left out. Always being plugged in can lead you to wondering what you’re missing.
The sad truth is that not everyone’s life is always sunny. We all have disappointments and hard days, but how often would you post about those moments? People publicise their misfortunes far less than their triumphs. Our view of a “normal life” is skewed. Just because people’s pictures focus on lavish vacations with their luxury real estate agent, everyone still goes through the grind of everyday life. It is okay to not be okay. This painted picture of life and friendship doesn’t represent the ups and downs you should be experiences as you grow up. Enjoy the whole picture, even the messy bits.
Always Living Publicly
The parts of your life you do share online become public right away to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. While celebrities must deal with paparazzi all the time, the average person is still adjusting to living a life that is always monitored. Everything you post online becomes a representation of who you are. This becomes tricky when you apply for school, scholarships, or jobs. The internet becomes a road map to your past that almost anyone can access. So, even though you may think you can hide behind screen names, you’re words may still come back to bite you. We live in an age where everything has the potential to “go viral.” So, a video of you on your worst day could earn you a plethora of embarrassment and ridicule. Society publicly shames these individuals, and you don’t often get a second chance. You must be careful about what you post in this regard.
In some cases, this is quite dangerous because of cyberbullying. When kids feel like there won’t be repercussions for their actions, they feel free to say whatever they want. It’s not just teenagers, some grown adults still go at each other’s throats over political debates on Facebook. Most people avoid confrontation or don’t have the guts to say mean things in person. However, social media has given some of these bullies the courage to speak out.
You also must be wary of what you post online for certain job opportunities. For example, teachers cannot post anything offensive, for fear of losing their job. While it is reasonable for a teacher to visit a liquor store in Woodbridge, NJ after a long week, they can’t “check in” there online. Parents may get the wrong idea, even though the teacher is not working, and he or she has every right to have a drink. With the overwhelming presence of social media, you must always stay on duty and responsible for protecting your reputation.
A recent study found that Americans spend over 9 hours a day looking at a screen. Now you may be thinking that most of that time is spent for work related purposes, right? Not quite. The same study concluded that 8 hours of this time is for personal use on social media, email, news outlets, or watching television. We must admit that we are a distracted society. We can’t even walk into a doctor’s office anymore without clear signs asking patients not to be on their phones with the doctor in the room. As a society, we stay so glued to our devices that we fail to notice the world around us.
This could be hurting more than just our necks and our fingers from hours of staring and scrolling. Americans are losing focus. Students must spend more time on their homework, because they always take breaks to check in on the friends who are off having a better time than them. While you study for your Associate Degree in Nursing program, you also try to maintain your remote social life online. These distractions affect how our brains develop.
Not only do screens hurt our brain, but they also affect our relationships. Kids do not develop the necessary skills to hold a conversation. We get distracted so easily, and if the conversation strays from our interests, we tune out and focus back on the media in front of us. In a world where every piece of information is at our fingertips, we’ve lost our patience with people. Just remember the next time you’re with your friends in person that those true relationships can’t be replaced with viral ones.