OPINION: Have we become slaves to social media?

Grace Green - Opinion Editor
Grace Green (Photo by Kayla Lane)

“Didn’t you see it on my story?”

“How many likes did you get on that picture?”

“I can’t believe they posted that!”

“We’ve been ‘snapping’ a lot recently. I think she likes me.”

When did our society reach the point of needing unattainable amounts of validation from others, or more specifically, from the world wide web? How did we go from picking up the phone to call a friend we hadn’t seen in a while to only shooting them the occasional ‘I miss you!’ text? What convinced us to take a half hour trying to snap the perfect ‘selfie’ with the most ‘natural’ filter, only to see how many “likes” we receive on Instagram?

Our reliance on displaying every aspect of our lives to the world has become an obsession. It’s tearing apart our creativity, our attention span – and our relationships.

The best adventures and masterpieces occur mostly outside of social media, and there would be a lot more of them if we spent more time away from it. Thank goodness for those born with natural creativity and audacity. They are free from reliance on Pinterest for the best DIY and travel tips. They put their minds to work with pianos and guitars, canvases and paper, trails and rattling cars.

But we all need to step outside of Pinterest and related social media just a little more. The world needs more unique ideas and abstract understandings.

In addition to our creativity, social media use has massacred out attention spans. According to a study by AssistedLivingToday, the average attention span has decreased from 12 minutes to 5 minutes in the last ten years. We are conditioned to receiving our news in 140 characters and videos in under 10 minutes. We check our email nearly every hour and our phones every few minutes. Studies show that the ability to concentrate and engage in in-depth thinking is decreasing with the younger generations.

When is the last time you spent an hour away from your phone or computer?

Social media is also destructive to every kind of relationship. We’ve stopped writing letters for the sake of text messages. We spend too much time and effort posting our relationship events online instead of investing in the person we are in a relationship with. We Snapchat or Instagram in the middle of a one-on-one conversation. We place strong judgments on the lifestyles of others based on the photos they post and the timeframe they post them in.

Have you ever stopped to think maybe not all of your Snapchat followers need to know what’s going on in your life in order for it to be significant?

If you’re still contemplating something to give up this Lenten Season, perhaps it could be social media. I can speak from previous experience when I say this sacrifice has only served to better my life and draw me closer to the most important things. Choose any length of time, but try giving it up. Delete the apps off your phone, temporarily deactivate your accounts – let it go.

In replacement, try engaging in conversation with the person in front of you standing in line at the HUB. Send a handwritten letter to someone, letting them know you care. Read a book – a whole book. Leave your phone in your bag or pocket during meals and focus on the friends you are with. Social media has provided significant benefits and advances, but it’s time we start becoming responsible consumers.

Albert Einstein once said, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

Maybe we can prevent this.

Grace Green is a senior elementary and special education major. She can be reached at greeng@huntington.edu. This column reflects the views of the writer only.

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