In today’s digital age, where technology influences much of our daily lives, it is almost impossible not to be active on some type of social media. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter or all of the above, social media play a large role in the way we interact and communicate with each other. I feel that people constantly compare their lives to each other’s because of social media, which can create unrealistic perceptions about how everyone else is living life. Often, our social media “friends” are people we rarely speak to in-person, and our interactions with strangers halfway across the world become more abundant. While I believe social media can be beneficial in business and in personal life, these platforms can also deprive people of face-to-face interactions with one another. I believe we should step away from our online “bubbles” in order to grow our friendships, converse in real time with one another and build a strong support network with people we can trust and understand.
Photo: Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash
Social media paint images of our lives as filled with fun cross-country adventures or gourmet foods at the newest eateries downtown, and they make us believe the people we share our stories with are our strongest supporters. With platforms like Facebook, it can be easy to get lost in the digital network of so-called “friends.” I mean, how many of us have spoken to all 700 of our Facebook friends? Do all of our “friends” even care about who we are as people? In the digital age, anyone can be our friend, and that makes it hard to discern who truly has our backs. There are too many “fake” friends and not enough “true” friends, and the only way we can grow friendships with people who support and understand us is to unplug and step away from our digital networks.
Not only does stepping away from social media provide us with the opportunity to grow and strengthen friendships we can confide in, it allows us to think about what we truly want out of our online bubble. Do we use Facebook to stay connected or to share our opinions? Do we rely on Twitter for engaging in conversation or debating controversial topics? Taking the time to unplug helps us analyze our true friends and cleanse our social media profiles to limit our list of “friends” to those we can trust. Unplugging becomes a chance to see beyond the digital stratosphere; thus, refocusing our minds toward the physicalities of our environment. Limiting social media use offers the space to think about the people with whom you share your life updates; hence, reducing the “fake” friendships and strengthening the relationships and connections of true ones.
The best ways to take a break from social media include prioritizing your hobbies. Try replacing the time you would be on social media with reading a book, writing, volunteering or working on do-it-yourself crafts.
Social networking platforms allow us to hide behind our computers and talk about anything with anyone at any time, which deprives us of physical communication. Even if we are digital nomads, face-to-face communication improves interpersonal skills and creates a space to engage honestly with one another. Face-to-face communication is always better than online conversation because you can see the raw emotions and feel the realness of a conversation as you talk. But let’s face it: it is easier to post a Facebook message or 140-character tweet than it is to meet up with a friend for coffee. Social media let us share our thoughts, ideas and opinions with the world. Sure, the differences that come from everyone within our network make for a great conversation starter, but in the end, who do we count as true friends? We should spend more time outside of our online bubbles and more time engaging with each other – face-to-face and conversing in real time – to grow as individuals and friends.
Sharing our own ideologies, thoughts, opinions and views on an endless number of topics to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram brings our guard down and leaves us at risk for cyber attacks and stranger danger. I especially feel that we can overexpose ourselves to strangers with our personal information when we share stories and updates about our lives with more people than necessary. We become susceptible to cyber attacks and unwanted debates with strangers who have differing opinions, people we thought were our “friends,” and the thought that our ideas can go viral at any moment. Social media expose us to everything and everyone. To reduce our risk of oversharing information with people we do not know, we should confide in our support network – friends and family – rather than our online bubbles.
I believe our online bubbles can direct us in the wrong direction. With filters and easily editable words, social media can hinder our growth as individuals. Other people may corrupt our own individual thinking with their own ideologies, while seeing what others post present us with the opportunity to compare our lives with theirs. Stepping away from the online networks can help greatly improve our sense of identity and strengthen our curious minds to explore who we are in the world around us.
Sara Kim graduated with a B.A. in Journalism and a double minor in Health Policy and Management and Asian American Studies from Ithaca College. She currently works as an Event Coordinator at a non-profit. In her free time, she enjoys working out, reading, watching movies, and cooking. Fun fact: as a foodie, she loves to try new foods and travel to new places.