Measure with memories, not likes

Anna Scott Lovejoy

This may not surprise most, but 98 percent of young adults from ages 18 to 24 are using social media already. This number, which could only seem to grow in the future, suggests the seriousness of our generation’s social media epidemic. The Huffington Post released an article called “What Social Media Reveals About Narcissism” that highlights an important point: “Twitter fuels younger adults’ narcissistic tendencies by acting as a megaphone for their thoughts.”

Perhaps our generation feels the need to broadcast anything and everything in order to 
constantly improve self image. The more people use these sites, the more likely they are to become self-absorbed and not only judgmental of their own image but everyone else’s as well.

Still deep in thought, I attempted to deny that I am complicit in my generation’s tendency to judge someone’s happiness, quality of life and social standing based off a few trivial pictures. Maybe I still try my best to save my first impressions of people for when I meet them in person, but I would be lying if I flat-out denied judging people based off of their online profiles. If someone from my high school never posts pictures to prove their contentment with their new college lives, I assume multiple things right away. Do they hate their school? Do they have no friends? Did they fail out?

This is shameful for me to think, I know, but I find it difficult to avoid jumping to these shameful conclusions when so much of our social lives revolve around our phones, pictures and profiles. When I had an incredible day zip lining in Costa Rica, I wanted the world to know it happened. If I did not post a picture, I couldn’t help but think, did it really even happen? Of course it happened, but did it really even matter that I was out adventuring and living my life to the fullest if no one knew?

As my long road trip continued I decided to make a vow to invest my energy into getting rid of this negative mentality I had unknowingly adopted. It upset me to realize that I could consider the best part about my once in a lifetime zip-lining experience to be finally posting an Instagram picture worthy of breaking 200 likes. I will not remember the 200-plus likes on that Instagram picture when I am 80 years old. I will remember the hilarity of watching my lifelong best friend, Sarah, hanging upside down as she flew down the zip line. Other people knowing or “liking” when we go out with friends, travel the world or have a delicious looking meal is not what makes those moments so special. What makes our lives full are the memories we lived through – the memories we hold dear to our hearts, not the memories other people assume we have based on a post.

Our generation faces an ironic social challenge: the art of making your life appear interesting by posting dozens of pictures that no one is, in fact, interested in. Personal moments come and pass, and cherished memories are made every day. Evade the innate desire to prove to others that you make meaningful memories every day, for they are real and meaningful to you regardless of whether you posted proof of their existence. Perhaps this may offer all of us needed insight into living through the digital age with a healthier, happier attitude.

Anna Scott Lovejoy is a freshman majoring in Spanish and general business.