I am warning you right now that this blog post is basically going to be one big word vomit tangent so buckle up because God knows where this is going to go!
I have been getting increasingly worried recently about the development and proliferation of social media and how it is impacting modern relationships and life experiences. It is so integrated into our millennial lives that I think the majority of people don’t take time to sit back and reflect on the effect it has on their whole existence. There are three main things which concern me.
First things first. Less and less people are living in the moment. Every second of every day needs to be captured for social media. Hardly anyone takes the time to just sit and enjoy a a moment or experience for what it is. Pretty sunset? Better take a picture for instagram. Funny moment in the gym? Better share it on Facebook. Nothing is kept for ourselves or enjoyed alone. The worst one is when you’re at a music concert and people spend the whole time recording it on their phones. Realistically, you’re probably going to watch that video back once or not at all. You may never get to see this performance again, so turn your phone off and enjoy it!
A stand out moment for me was when I was in Rome on a sight-seeing holiday. At every single sight it seemed like all the tourists were more concerned with getting their Facebook photos or using their selfie sticks than actually looking at the incredible surroundings and learning about the fascinating history of the places they were visiting. It blew my mind. The more I have become aware of this, the more conscious I am of disconnecting from my technology. Now, I am not saying I am perfect. I have to be on social media a lot, it is my job after all. However I do save moments just for me, or just for my friends or for my boyfriend. Sometimes I sit on a bus and just look out of the window and don’t sit and scroll on my phone. Sometimes I will enjoy my meal without taking an instagram photo. Sometimes I will have banter with my friends and not film it for snapchat. Sometimes I will see a beautiful view and just stand, breathe deeply and take it in, rather than photographing it.
The other thing that gets to me is the impact of social media on relationships and social situations. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been sat in a restaurant and seen tables full of people all sat on their phones, not talking to each other. The thing that really gets me though is when I am spending time with a close friend in a one-on-one situation and they seem to be physically unable to give me their attention for a sustained period of time. Every five minutes they’re checking their social media and looking down at their phone. There have even been times when I have been sat at lunch, my companion asks me a question and then as I answer they get out their phone and start scrolling through instagram. That is plain disrespectful. It makes me feel like I am not worthy of their time and attention. Plus it feels like they’re not listening and you’re not really connecting with them as an individual.
I am not saying I never go on my phone when I am with my friends, but I always have the decency to ask them if it is ok. I choose my moment wisely and if they are speaking to me I make sure that I am engaged and listening. If I am out at a dinner party or a meal I always turn my phone on airplane mode and put it in my bag so I can thoroughly enjoy the company I am in. It just worries me that people are so reliant on the internet world and engrossed in online relationships that they struggle to engage in real-life face-to-face interactions and sustain attention and conversation with another individual.
Finally, the last thing I am going to touch on in this big social media rant is the way it affects peoples self-esteem and self-worth. The nature of social media means that the vast majority of people only share the best bits of their lives across their platforms. Their new promotion, their luxurious holiday or their fun night out with friends. They aren’t going to show the long work days, troublesome relationships or down days. Social media is a highlight reel. On the one hand this can be positive and aspirational for consumers of the content and provide them with motivation to work harder or live a healthier lifestyle. However, it can also encourage an unhealthy relationship with themselves where they constantly compare their normal lives to the glamorous lives of those they follow.
It is actually quite natural to compare yourselves to other people, it was probably evolutionarily advantageous back in the day. You know, making sure you get the most strong and able partner and make the best babies with the highest chances of survival and all that (where the hell am I going with this?!). Anyways… the thing is, times have changed. In the past mirrors didn’t exist and we weren’t able to compare our bodies to other peoples. In the past we lived in small villages and could only look at those in our immediate community. Now we are able to access images of millions and even billions of other people, airbrushed, botox-ed and filtered people, and compare ourselves to them in every aspect of our lives. We are living in an hyper-accessible world, something we have never experienced before and quite frankly it is overwhelming. It is no wonder self-confidence as a whole is at an all-time low. I genuinely am concerned to one day bring up a child in this modern world where social media provides a whole new series of platforms to bully others on or to knock a teenagers self-confidence. The reality is that we are all normal. We all have down days. We all cry. We all have embarrassing moments. We all make mistakes, slip up or say the wrong thing. We just don’t show it to others.
All that being said, my job is based on social media and it is pretty much integrated into every aspect of a modern twenty-somethings life. My livelihood relies on its existence so I guess I had better make amends with it hey? Let’s be honest, I am not saying that it is the downfall of modern society or anything like that. I bloody love it. I just think that we need to raise awareness in millennials of the impact it is having on our lives, and ensure that we don’t lose ourselves, our identities and our relationships to it. Let’s focus less on living a life which looks good online and more on experiencing a life which feels amazing in person.
Leave your thoughts on this topic in the comments below! Lets get a conversation going!