Social networking is big, really BIG. I currently use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest on a regular basis. There’s also SnapChat, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and oldies like MySpace and Xanga. And before that, we had AIM chat and email. But with the increasing number of people owning personal laptops and smart phones, people are more connected to ideas and each other than ever before… or are they?
I have attended social events where half the table busily fiddled with their phones instead of engaging in conversation. I have seen people lose the beauty of a moment by capturing every second of it, in selfies and video clips, which end up on Facebook and Twitter for all to see. “Pics or it didn’t happen,” is the phrase of the day.
What if we enjoyed the moments and took mental pictures? What if we put down our phones and talked to the person across the table? What if we stopped taking selfies of every little thing? Selfies with your food, selfies with no filter, selfies with the BFF, selfies at parties (#YOLO), selfies with ______ (fill in the blank). Social media is feeding our self worship.
Social media claims to help us be more “connected,” which is true to a certain degree. Facebook and Skype make long distance communication a breeze. Pinterest is a fun way to share and discover new ideas. Instagram documents our lives in pictures, sharing and showing our lives with our followers. Social media can be good.
But social media can be fake. Overuse of social media leads to an urgent necessity to be “up” on what’s going on in everyone’s lives. Scrolling through our newsfeeds, we can see what our friends have been doing lately. But our “friends” only post what they want others to see, not always what’s really going on. A comment on someone’s “wall” is quick and simple, but is it real? Would we talk to this person outside of the virtual world? Would we dare to get together over coffee, and ask them how they’re really doing, behind the filter-perfect Instagrams and overly hash tagged happy photos?
Our generation needs to UNPLUG. And it can start with you and me. Next time you want to know how a friend is doing, give them a call. If you’re out by yourself, savor the moment and beauty around you; don’t ruin it with excessive picture taking. Instead of #YOLO after all your pictures, really live in the moment by realizing how fleeting it is. You only live once, and a beautiful life can be fully lived without non-stop visual proof on your newsfeed. “Pics or it didn’t happen” is false.
I’m as guilty of social media addiction as anyone else. I check my Facebook in the morning, scroll through my Pinterest feed, and check my email on my phone, all before I even get out of bed. And I know it’s unhealthy. I’m not advocating that we all delete our Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I am advocating moderation. A good thing can be overdone. “You only live once” is partially true, but more accurately, you only live once on this Earth, so make the most of your time by putting down your phone, closing your laptop, and interacting with others face to face.