Attack of the Social Media Monster

Ashley Puk, Features Editor

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Am I the only one who goes on my computer, intending to do homework, but instead goes to Twitter, then Facebook, then Tumblr, and then back to Twitter because it’s been a while and something new has probably come up? Then, by some stroke of magic, my homework/any productive things I intended to get done is left to the backburner until 10 p.m.

Somehow, I know this isn’t groundbreaking to most students living in 2014. But the fact that we are all in a state of complacence about it is actually sort of unhealthy. The worst part is that someone like me, a part of this generation, is fully aware how much it drains my ability to be a productive person and use my time wisely, yet I still give into it. I will spend upwards of an hour going through my phone after school, completely oblivious of my surroundings, to see what the latest is which —more often than not—is nothing.

Maybe it has to do with the onset of an overstimulated generation of kids with ADHD, but that’s a whole other topic. I am of the mind that we are obsessed with how other people perceive us and how this piece of our unconscious manifests to hold our constant attention.

It would only make sense that we start caring about our “internet personas” after a history of human civilization to know that appearances are everything (see: the myth of Narcissus, 1950s domesticity, and every single boy band from the 2000s). You would think we know better by now (see: the fate of Narcissus, Pleasantville, and washed up boy bands from the 90s). Nonetheless, some acknowledgement of outward appearance is necessary and encouraged. Yet the extent to which we seek validation is astonishing.

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Take several friends of mine— around 17-years-old, students, the usual— but social status be damned if their Instagram photos do not get to 11 “likes.” Just in case they do receive an unlucky ten likes, they ensure this does not continue by asking me to “like” the photo. Even I do it sometimes. We joke about it and it’s funny, until you actually wonder what this “approval” really even means. We are hung up on something so arbitrary and it is merely a result of being conditioned to believe this is what really counts in life. Forget respect, self-esteem, happiness— the amount of likes on your Instagram photos is what matters.

We are infatuated with the idea that the photos we post of our lives and the statuses we update our lives with are indicators of a life fulfilled because we are receiving the approval of others, so it must be good enough! But there’s the catch: enough. We are so worried about making sure other believe that our lives are great that we don’t often enough consciously reflect, “Is it actually good?”          

I know at this point I sound like a cynical baby boomer screaming, “Get off my lawn, you rotten kids!”but I don’t feel that way at all. For the most part, young people are much more aware and socially conscious today thanks to the infinite information at their fingertips. I just fear that something so integral to our civilization at this point can be detrimental to our well-being.

We are constantly connected in communication with those around us, yet still feel distant. The approval we get over the internet is not fulfilling, even though it seems that way. Repeat after me: I am not the amount of likes on my Facebook status. I am not the number of favorites on my tweet.

I present you with a challenge: be conscious. Turn off your phone from the time you get home to the time you go to sleep. Do some homework. Maybe get into painting. See a friend and have a conversation about your life that doesn’t include what someone said on Twitter. Decide what is actually important to you. Be conscious.

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