I’m on social media all the time. Most of the day for work, most of the evening for myself. We all do it and it surrounds our lives.
The unfortunate reality is that so much of the world we live in revolves around social media. We almost feel out of the loop if we don’t use it.
People no longer talk to you, they grow closer to people they’ve never met and you often find things out way later than everyone else.
Of course, there are pros to it as well. I’m certainly not against using it. As I’ve learned from experience, some of those distant friends become some of the best you know, everything is at your fingertips and there is at times, a true sense of community.
That being said, there is an emotional disconnect that has become apparent to me recently.
COVID-19 and Lockdown
You may be reading this in the future, but this is still integral to the point. Since this whole lockdown malarkey began, I’ve noticed changes in people and their behaviour.
It started out with everyone posting rumours and confusion at what’s going on. This was followed by everyone video calling each other and staying somewhat optimistic. Over time people have been conversing less, complaining more and feeling downright miserable.
What has become evidently clear, is that trying to utilise social media to fill the void of human interaction, just isn’t working. With many now going weeks and months without seeing loved ones, it’s evident that we miss the connections we once had.
A lot of us may have realised we were taking quite a lot for granted, only now yearning for the chance to show appreciation for a loved one or thing.
Starting out with simple status boxes and message functions, along with the ability to list some things you like, social media took what was already popular on forums and in local chat rooms, and essentially created an online database of your very own identity.
With the ability to read anyone and everyone’s thoughts, plays games, check-in to locations, see photographs and more, social media has become something many mould their lives around.
Whilst this does have its perks, it’s created a disconnect amongst people in real life.
You meet someone at an event and start forming a bond. Next thing you know it’s “add me on Facebook, we’ll talk there”. That’s great and all, but how about you just have my phone number and we can arrange to go chat in a cafe some time?
You go out for a family meal, celebrating a birthday/marriage/birth/death, and you’re at a restaurant. It’s a sentimental moment that will be remembered for years to come.
Sure, take a family photo, that’s understandable. However, taking a picture of your food, posting it to Instagram and then replying to comments on it, before inevitably getting sucked into the endless void of other photos, detaches you from everyone else sharing that memory.
There are more examples, but it’s a clear addiction that needs a solution fast.
Addiction & Stan Culture
One thing nobody talks about enough is social media addiction. We become glued to our devices, obsessed with what people are doing.
An example of this, is the “Stan” culture on Twitter. Now I’m not hip or down with the kids so I may be wrong, but I believe it started with the Eminem song of the same name.
Written about an overly obsessive fan that had very clear mental health issues, these Twitter folk aim to use the word as their identity.
An example of this would be say @TTWMikey_100 with the screen name of We Stan Mikey, retweeting all my posts, following thousands of other like-minded fans, drinking tea because I do it and every single tweet is about me and what they love about me.
Thankfully that isn’t actually a thing, but it’s weird isn’t it? It’s essentially public stalking and it’s not fun. People are living their lives around the lives of other people, instead of living for what they already have.
For me, social media needs more warnings in place or even account locks. On Facebook you can opt to go into your settings and create an alert that says you’ve been on for a certain point of time for that day.
Mine is set to pop-up at an hour, at which point I tend to avoid Facebook for the rest of the day. Vero, the lesser known of the social medias, offered users the option to see a real-time graph of their app usage, allowing you to see how many hours you could’ve spent doing something else.
If more users were aware of these features, or if the apps automatically did this without giving users the option turn it off, I think we’d all be in a better place for it.
Even going as far as only letting users on for so many hours a day or week would surely improve the mental well-being of people around the world.
I’m not opposed to using social media. I quite enjoy using Instagram, as a means to promote my work and to communicate with friends/see the world.
That being said, I’m guilty of spending far too much time on social media, neglecting my loved ones and being antisocial. If you were to tell me this has never applied to you at one point or another, I probably wouldn’t believe you.
When lockdown is over and the world goes back to normal, whatever normal is, I’m going to make more of an effort to see my loved ones in person. No more shrugging it off and opting to just message them instead, I want to seize the opportunity and make memories with them all.
I’m also going to partake in new activities, trying new things, going new places. I want to make the most of the blessing of life that we all have, to appreciate the world around us.
I’d like to urge everyone to truly think about what I’ve said here too. To ponder what your life is without social media and work. Take the chance to learn more about who you are, form your own opinions and enjoy your own experiences.
Social media is great, but we shouldn’t let it define our lives. Let’s all be more aware, actively seek change and mend the disconnect that already surrounds us.
Post by Michael Sallabank