It’s honestly amazing to think of how much the world has advanced in the last 100 years. From the development of the first computer, to the invention of the internet, the mobile phone and now the smartphone, the world’s technology is constantly evolving. The invention of the smart phone may have been one of the greatest technological advances since the dawn of time. One of the main components of smartphones is of course, social media and the internet.
Although social media and the internet have been revolutionary in the way that they let us connect with people from around the world, they also allow us to express ourselves, market businesses, sell things and keep up to date with the latest news. All of this is great, but there is an argument to be made that social media, the internet and addiction to our smartphones is turning our generation into the most anti-social, anxious and lazy generation that has ever been.
Before you even begin to judge. No, I am not some hermit that lives alone with his 12 cats, reading old books and writing letters to my nearest and dearest. I am an ordinary, social, 21-year-old smartphone and social media user. I’ve had a phone since I was 13. Back in a simpler time. The good old days of snake and decent battery life. I constantly advanced with the times, as did so many of my generation. I upgraded my phone regularly, swapping old models for newer ones in the hope that there was a new feature that I thought was cool and could show off in the yard. It’s hard to say whether I actually changed my phone for myself or for other people’s recognition and reaction, but it happened. When I got my first smartphone, like anybody, my life was never the same. I could access so many different things without having to boot up a computer or leave the house.
As time went on, and technology became more and more advanced, everything was immediately accessible on my phone. I could get instant breaking news, sports results, various slurs of pictures from messy nights’ out and who was (or was no longer) in a relationship with who. As time went on, I realised that I was spending more and more time with my head planted to my phone, wanting to be constantly updated with the same status’, photos and videos that I had seen ten minutes earlier. Checking my phone became a habit, I was hooked. This would have not been possible if it weren’t for social media such as: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. To be honest, I can see how ironic it is that you are probably reading this off a link you saw on Facebook or Twitter and that’s not really the point.
I’m not denying that social media and smartphones have had an amazing positive effect on society. I’ve gotten to know some of my best friends on Facebook, I started talking to people that became girlfriends, and then ex-girlfriends (I’ll blame Twitter for that) on social media, I can keep in contact with friends I’ve made in foreign countries, check emails, buy useless crap off amazon that I never use, the list goes on and on, ALL because of the internet and social media. These aspects are great, but there is a highly negative side to the internet and social media that deals with cyber bullying, disruption of sleep and a lack of movement. The other ironic thing about the internet and “social” media, is that it is antisocial in a lot of ways.
Forget the virtual reality headsets that look like you’ve tried to duct tape a PlayStation 4 to your face. We are living in a virtual reality through our social media accounts. We can appear to act a certain way and appear to be someone that we are not. Social media is riddled with everyone’s best side. People, including myself, post their best selfies (selfie was actually added to the oxford dictionary a few months ago) to social media in an attempt to appear to be the best version of themselves. It all comes across as very fake and staged. There are some naturally gorgeous people that look the exact same as their photos on Facebook, but I go from a seven on Facebook to a two and a half in real life, real fast.
My point is that people are living alternate lives through social media and are putting on a front in the hope that they will get likes, little hearts or thumbs up to boost their own self confidence. I know so many people that care a lot about the amount of likes that they get on social media, which directly affects the mood they are in and how they feel about themselves. This is so sad. We should live in a world where people are comfortable with the body they have and aren’t relying on people’s recognition and thumb taps to make themselves feel good. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and so many people that use the internet social media try to compare themselves to other people and create an imaginary benchmark for what someone “beautiful” should look like.
this is my new favorite photo of all time pic.twitter.com/v8Qs6TeXZf— Wayne Dahlberg (@waynedahlberg) September 26, 2015
The internet and social media has consumed our social situations to the point that when a group of people meet up for dinner, they are stuck to their phones the entire time, barely conversing with one another. When people go to a concert or event they feel the need to have to document every last second and end up living the entire moment through their screen, left with a video that they will probably never watch again.
It might seem like an old fashioned concept that your mum or dad or both is constantly harping on about. Spinning some story about how back in their day people actually had to rely on their word if they wanted to meet up, because people couldn’t cancel so easily. Stories of how they used to meet new people and have fun, get into trouble and experience life. This nagging actually has a point. We spend so much time consumed in our phones that our ideas about human interaction has changed. Our ideas about life experience and enjoying the moment has changed. Our desire to leave the house and wander has been replaced by Netflix marathons of shows we’ve seen advertised and talked about on social media (Narcos is amazing. I’m on season 2. I can’t stop). We are a generation that constantly has to be stimulated.
We can’t be bored for more than a minute. I’m not saying give up on the internet and social media and move into a cave with no connection to technology, but if you set yourself times where you can use the internet and your beloved social media apps, and put your phone down and talk to people, your life will change. If you try not to use your phone when you get into bed (I know it’s hard, sleep is boring) you will have a better sleep and be in ten times better mood the next day. You will start to see new things you’ve never seen before and experience moments in a different way. I tried it and it changed my life. I don’t rely on my phone anymore and I can honestly say I could live without it. It’s a hard habit to break, but I think if we all try to look at life through our own eyes, it will serve us better in the future.