Today, social media is relevant in almost all of our lives, no matter how old or young you are. Whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or Twitter, it seems like most of us are familiar with at least one, if not all, of these popular social media platforms. Social media can be an easy and fun way to access and share pictures, videos, and messages with others with just the click of a button. However, there are many negative impacts that have been called to attention recently which may outweigh the positive ones.
Social media is a form of communication, which is defined as a means of connecting people (or places). But how accurately and honestly are we communicating to others online? Are online “connections” we make with people as genuine as real life ones? Do we value ourselves and others for how we come across in social media? These are all important questions to ask as one examines the downsides of “staying connected.”
As stated in “Project Socialize,” a short documentary by Friends Academy senior Cade Huseby, the three most commonly experienced effects of social media are the fear of missing out (aka FOMO), social anxiety, and the effect it has on real life interactions. FOMO is the fear or anxiety that one feels towards missing out on a seemingly important social event. FOMO may be consuming your thoughts more than you think. It is the cause of the sadness, isolation, and/or jealousy many teens may feel when missing out on something, which is often triggered or intensified by the content displayed on many social media sites. With this content displayed right in front of us on a 24/7 basis, it only acts as a reminder of what one is missing out on. This “FOMO” can lead to social anxiety, something common for many teens — and even adults — these days. It is actually more common than you think for people to attend an event, not because one wants to, as much as one feels the need to. This may be as a result of not only what one fears they could potentially miss out on, but also how others may perceive them for not going.
In addition, social media may be impacting our real life interactions. How many times have you gone places with your friends or family and majority of you end up sitting around all staring at your phones instead of interacting with the people you are with? Or have gone on vacations and the only way you could leave the trip feeling satisfied was by first getting the “perfect insta”? Social media is prohibiting us from living in the moment and being fully present in the right now. Many things go unnoticed in our quest to deliver an interesting story through the media, rather than actually experiencing the event itself. So much of today's satisfaction in our youth comes from the reaction we get from others, either in the form of a like,comment, or share. However, none of these things are actually tangible and neither as meaningful as a compliment given face to face with that person. Social media may be dulling our sense of observation as well as creating a barricade between reality and fantasy. The irony is that majority of what we see online has been distorted in some way to appear in a more flawless manner; it is not real life! That flawless photo you saw on Insta the other day may only be another photoshopped illusion that took a hundred shots to make it look 100% “perfect.”
To conclude I would like to propose a series of questions for our student body;
How can you limit the distractions of social media in order be more present in our real life interactions with others?
How can you portray yourselves in more of a realistic light via social networks like instagram, snapchat and facebook?
How can we be more tolerant to others feelings on social media by what we post?