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Interconnectedness can hurt, not help

Brett Hodges, Staff Columnist

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In modern times, we live in a world based on the sharing every single facet of our day-to-day lives on social media. Everything from what we eat to what we wear and who we see is plastered across multiple different channels of communication for the whole world to see.

But what if this doesn’t actually bring us closer? What if it’s actually driving us apart? Right now, I could easily pull out my phone, open Snapchat and cover my story with pictures of myself writing this article, but what purpose would that serve? Would I become closer to my longtime friends, or would I simply be looking for that next Dopamine fix and validation as I see how many people check up on what I’m doing?

In a recent article published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the use of multiple social media platforms is directly linked to depression and anxiety. The APA attributes this to social media creating a culture based on one-upmanship and keeping up with current trends.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be well versed in pop culture and having a strong desire to excel amongst your peers, the ever changing tides of social media culture prevent us from ever truly being on top of things. The anxiety that stems from social media overuse can also be attributed to the constant barrage of everybody else’s “perfect” lives on display.

Nobody posts their bad hair days to Instagram – rather, people almost always post pictures looking more fit, attractive and popular than they actually are. Seeing that others are enjoying life is not a problem, but being constantly bombarded with photos and videos of others can quite easily cause a sense of anxiety or give the impression that one isn’t truly living a fulfilled and happy life, all because they don’t receive the same amount of attention or likes that a friend does.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve watched a friend post something on social media, only to delete it moments later because it just wasn’t getting enough likes.

This sort of attention seeking behavior is dangerous to our psyche, and rather than spending time creating memories with the ones we love, we instead invest a large portion of our energy into crafting the perfect online persona in order to impress acquaintances, people we barely know and even our friends. Social status is often determined by how many followers a person has rather than the content of their character.

So what is the solution to this problem? Should we all delete our social media accounts and swear off any and all behaviors that could be construed as attention seeking? Do we return to an 1850s-like culture where we have to actually drive to a person’s home if we want to have a conversation with someone? The answer is no.

Social media is not a malignant enemy bent on the destruction of our interpersonal skills. It’s a tool that should be used, but limited as not to harm the user. Rather than pulling out your phone the next moment you have a second of downtime, take a look around and enjoy the scenery. Maybe even strike up a conversation with a stranger. Be present in the moment. Above all, don’t spend life living for likes, spend life living for yourself. Do the things that you want to do, not what the latest trending hashtags want you to do.

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Interconnectedness can hurt, not help