It all started in 6th grade when I got an AIM and a MySpace. It was the first time I was able to connect with people behind a screen and boy, did I think that I was the bee’s knees. After school I would come home and sit behind my dad’s old-as-a-dinosaur laptop and go on AIM to chat with my friends I was just with. As social media evolved, I eventually got a Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Over the past year though, I have gotten rid of all social media sites. The only profile I have kept is my LinkedIn profile, but I would consider that a professional network, not social media. I did not get rid of my social media in one day, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that either. When I got to college I found myself on Facebook more and Twitter less, so naturally, after some thinking, I decided to delete Twitter. And Instagram? I never really had one of those, anyway. As the year went on, I deleted my Snapchat, and during this past summer, I deleted my Facebook. I can honestly say I am so happy that I did. I’m not going to lie, I was a little hesitant at first because I thought “Well, what if I regret it, I can’t get it back?” or “Now this or that person isn’t going to know what I’ve been up to.” The more I thought about it, the more I thought, “Why am I focusing so much about what other people will think?” Then it hit me; social media made me subconsciously focus solely on what others thought of me, which made me think I would be judged for deleting my social media. It’s almost like an unannounced contract you sign when you make an account. I mean, take “likes” and “favorites” for example. You are basing the value of your words and pictures by other people clicking a button that they will probably forget they clicked in 5 seconds. “Likes” shouldn’t determine your self-esteem, but time and time again I would hear people, or even myself, saying to a friend “Should I post this?” or “Does this sound stupid?” It made me focus on what other people wanted me to be, rather than who I truly was. After all, we are like our own public relations firms.
Social media used to be about connecting with friends and family, but it has become less about connecting and more about impressing. More than ever, I think the social aspect is being taken out of social media. Think about it, how often do you see people posting on people’s walls now? It’s changed from connecting to impressing and wondering what he or she is doing, rather than talking to others. Another example: Snapchat used to be about chatting with your friends and sending extremely unattractive snaps to them hoping they wouldn’t screenshot it. What is it now? It’s making sure you always have a snap story of everything you’ve ever done, every party you were at, making sure everyone knows who your friends are. Oh, and making sure you’re in their top three best friends. Otherwise they probably hate you. Gallop took a poll in 2001 that showed, on average, Americans said that they had ten really close friends. The same poll this year said we have two. What does that tell you? We are becoming less social with more “social” media.
Have you ever been with a friend and they were on their phone the whole time? How did that make you feel? It probably made you feel like the person on the other side of their screen was more important than you at the time. I would always bug my friends saying “No phone Friday!” when I was with them to get a point across. We, as humans, were created to interact in person with one another, and the higher social media is on your priority scale, the lower human interaction probably is. There’s a study done by Mary Maker who found that we touch or check our phones 150 times a day. On average, we spend 2 hours a day on social media. This averages to 14 hours a week, which is almost a part-time job worth of time. If you’re one who says “I’m so busy,” maybe don’t look at school, work, and sports; rather, look at all the time you spend tweeting, posting, and creeping. I have noticed I have a lot more stress-free time in the day now that I have no social media, which allows me to spend time in person with my friends, read a good book, go for a walk, take a nap or even sit in the chapel.
I didn’t delete social media because I tried to be a countercultural hippie. I deleted it because I value getting to know people on an authentic basis, rather than having everyone know everything about me on a website. Some of the joys in life are being able to get to know someone you don’t know and learning about them and their experiences. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a hug than a “like,” a smile than a “favorite,” and a friend than a “follow.” I challenge all of you Duhawks to be that guy or girl who leaves their phone in their bag when they are with people. I challenge you to look up when you’re walking to class and put the phone down. Lastly, I challenge you to not take pictures of every moment. As the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” states: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.” Yes, take some pictures, but remember to take in the moment when you’re with friends and family experiencing life because that’s what life is all about, people. Living life with the people you love and not trying to impress a single soul because of it. As I go, I will leave you with a quote from one of the most influential writers of our generation, Lin Yutang:“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of the non-essentials.” Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed. #girlout