Way back in 7th grade, my brother and I got lost while skiing through some trees at Copper Mountain. Our parents had no clue where we were for about an hour, and they started getting really worried. Were we frozen somewhere in the snow? Did we go off some cliff and fall to our deaths?
Little did they know, we had simply gotten missed the opening in the trees to get out. They decided to buy us cell phones the very next day after giving us a long talk about being responsible, which we obviously forgot about directly after. These phones were not high tech at all, but still got the job done.
I started off by only texting a couple people, but soon someone told me about a cool new thing called Facebook. I HAD to know what the fuss was all about, so I downloaded it, and slowly my life began to change. I started doing things that used to scare me more than anything else. I began talking to girls.
For the first time ever, I was being social with people other than the friends I’ve had since I was 8. This was a pretty big deal for me, and started doing it more often. My parents started to notice as well. They’d see me sitting and typing away at my phone rather than going outside and talking to my friends like usual, so they did the thing that seemed right, and took my phone away.
This was the beginning of my early life crisis, and I really couldn’t rap my head around why they took it! I was being plenty social in my eyes!
But to them I was simply being lazy and antisocial, so it had to come to an end.
So why is it that “social” media isn’t even considered “being social”? And what does it mean to “be social” in this current day and age?
I’m glad you asked, random internet user! In this current age, new things are being created every single day, and it’s up to us to figure out what to do/think about them. Social media sites have been popping up all over the internet, grabbing for our attention since the internet climbed in popularity.
I’m a fairly frequent Snapchat and Facebook user, and I was curious how these effected my well being, and those around me. There are plenty of studies showing how anxious and upset people get when they don’t get as many ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ on their posts as usual.
People with depression and anxiety disorders have it even worse off. All these social media sites create many false representations of famous and rich people that we look up to. People only post things that make themselves look AMAZING. You’re never going to see a picture of someone unless every single possible available option to make them look good, is in it.
Because of this, we see others in a very skewed light. People with (and without) disorders can sometimes feel inadequate compared to their super lavish Facebook friends, who seem as though they are solving world hunger, curing cancer, fixing global warming, and still have time to volunteer at the local humane society on the weekends. Yet this is simply not the case.
Huffington says that 17.5% of college women are treated for anxiety, and 8% of college men are. This is a large population. Like gigantic. And many of these same people self medicate their depression or anxiety with social media.
In the same way that drugs increase dopamine levels in the brain, posting a picture of yourself, and getting immediate positive feedback, is psychologically addictive. It’s also no coincidence that the popularity of social media has increased by 1000% since 2008, while at the same time, the average teenager used to spend about 16 hours per week hanging out with friends, but that average has dropped to around 6 hours.
Now, I’m not here to harass you all on how terrible society has gotten. I’m actually writing this to propose exactly the opposite.
Many definitions change throughout the years, to be better incorporated with the current norm. Our modern time is very much based around this new technology being updated and spread. We didn’t have smart phones or amazing computers 20 years ago, so is it possible that the meaning of “social” needs to be updated as well?
I propose a mutatione bold, in which we let go of our old ways and accept that we are being social, even if we aren’t talking in person 100% of the time. Talking to people thousands of miles away in Italy, reading an article about the current situation in Syria, or getting to see the pictures of a birthday party, the very same day, is what I consider social.
The times are changing, and I believe that with them, the way to describe “social” should change too.
There is a ton of info backing up how terrible social media is for our society, but none of it takes into account that maybe we are using it wrong and need to take a step back. Maybe some day social media will be considered “social” and many teens won’t be judged for using it because it’s recognized as a solid way to communicate and share new ideas with each other, as it was probably originally intended by the creators; and if I’m being totally honest, I believe that glorious day isn’t very far off from now either.