It’s a topic that’s worth discussing. Most people we see on an everyday basis are glued to their phones. It’s to a point where it’s become their second skin and without their phone, they almost feel naked. We look around us, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and rarely ever see people looking ahead since they’re always looking down at the small screen in front of them. While some say social media is a form of connecting with others from all over the world, others find it isolating and downright depressing. So, what’s the truth?
As someone who has been on social media for the past decade, seeing the way it has evolved from something as a way of playful distraction from stressful events in life to a full-blown takeover consuming our minds from every post to tweet is astonishing. Back in 2009, over ten years ago, Facebook was all the rage. People went on relentlessly to write a post of what they were doing in that exact moment or posted a picture before their homecoming dance. It was a time of pure bliss and innocence; no one ever thinking we wouldn’t be able to end up going even a few minutes without checking our phones to see how many likes or retweets we got on something we posted.
Flashforward to today. Social media has become not only a daily chore, but something we have a physically and mentally hard time prying our eyes away from. Everyone is connected online, and we put a lot of ourselves out there. Our information is enclosed in a small profile dictating our lives, and it keeps us up to date with everyone else’s that we choose to follow. We tend to do this stuff harmlessly without thinking of the repercussions.
Social media does provide some benefits. We’re able to connect with people all over the world and let our voices be heard by more than just the people we know and the insides of our journals. We’re able to see updated information regarding current events happening in our world today with just a ping indicating a notification instead of having to wait for the newspaper or turning on our televisions. We are some of the first people to know what is going on around the world, whether it be something terrible or great happening. For some people, it’s given them opportunities to branch out and use social media as a way of success and building their platforms. Influencers and social media directors were not a thing or a job title ten years ago for companies but are now being used to help promote their brand.
But with some positive light being shed there’s darkness casting a shadow completely over it. There has always been this idea that social media is nothing more than a place to show-off. The term “FOMO,” better known as the fear of missing out, has played a relevant role in all forms of social media. We as people develop this idea that if we’re not doing something great or always being positive or happy the way that we see others online, we feel lesser than them. There’s this overwhelming need to one-up someone by posting something grand or always being out and having a good time. But the problem with showing nothing but positivity distorts our minds into thinking that we can never be sad or vulnerable on these platforms.
There’s also this idea that social media is making people feel more lonely and depressed. We constantly scroll through our feed and maybe we see something that upsets us. Whether it be your friends out somewhere without you, your ex posting a new picture with their new significant other, or your favorite celebrity or blogger living with this ideal image of a seemingly perfect life, it makes us feel like whatever bad things we’re going through don’t matter.
In the end, social media has come a long way since ten years ago. And by looking at the benefits and strains it can cause, one can only hope for more positive impacts in the near future.
Kirstie Devine is 24 years old and is working towards her MFA in creative writing at Western New England University. She is most likely writing, reading a book, at a concert, laughing, petting a dog, or eating french fries. She hopes one day to write a book and have it be in the library in her town.