Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; we’re all guilty of it. While social media without a doubt has impacted our society in positive ways such as allowing businesses to create advertisements that reach consumers far and wide, spreading important messages like amber alerts instantaneously, and even helping long lost family members find each other; it has become the primary way of human-social interaction, and that should scare the hell out of you.
The epitome of “being social” in our society today consists of favoriting a tweet, liking a picture, or writing on someone’s wall. What once meant speaking with someone face-to-face or letting another person know how you felt, is now nothing but impersonal words and feelings expressed through the typing of words on a screen and a simple click. Sure, I guess this new method of communication is appealing to the shy introverts and those who find comfort behind a computer screen, and that’s okay, but to me it just doesn’t suffice.
What happened to love letters or actually striking up a conversation with someone if you wanted to become their friend? What happened to writing someone a card for their birthday and baking them a cake? Generation-Y needs to wake up and realize that technological communication cannot and will not ever fulfill or replace human social-interaction. What I’m trying to say here is that by making social media your primary method of communication you are only hurting yourself.
To elaborate and give a better understanding as to why the relationship between Generation-Y and social media is so toxic, the explanation can be broken down into three main components: the comparison, the facade, and the addiction.
Aside from completely eliminating the “human” part of social-interaction, the use of social media has affected the way the people of my generation live every aspect of their lives and has instilled a mentality that brainwashes the individual into thinking that no matter what they do, or who they are, they will never be good enough. This is where “the comparison” factors in. I know many people, including myself, often find themselves scrolling through Instagram or Facebook looking at the pictures posted by the people they follow or happen to be friends with and thinking, “Wow I wish I had their life” or “Why can’t I look like that?”
If you can relate to this at all, then you know how it is torturous and puts you in a really negative and overly critical state of mind. The worst part is that the comparison doesn’t stop there. People who do this will most likely click on the profile of the person they had just compared themselves to and continue scrolling through more of that person’s pictures, each one causing them to become increasingly more insecure.
The insecurity causes further self-questioning as to why that person has more money than them, is better looking, etc. which then results in the person asking themselves what it is that makes the other person superior.
The irony of all this madness is that we fail to realize that the whole time we were inflicting this pain upon ourselves and giving ourselves the idea that we were inferior to a person based solely off of how they chose to portray themselves through social media, and likewise, how we perceived them from that single factor.
Portrayal is what brings us to the next component, which is “the facade.” The facade quite simply put is the importance of realizing that so many of those people we often compare ourselves to are nothing more than people who use their social media profiles as a facade in efforts to appear a certain way to others, a way that they know they are not portrayed in real life. The toxicity of the facade is that we mentally exhaust ourselves by comparing ourselves to these people who depict themselves in a way where they know people will be comparing themselves, which in turn gives them an outlet for a self-esteem/ego boost that they more than likely could not attain in real life- sad, but true.
Finally we come to the last aspect, which is “the addiction.” I call this aspect “the addiction”, because I find it very similar to a drug addiction. The correlation between drug addicts and social media users is that the “drug” social media users get a high off of is the satisfaction gained after receiving a “like”, “comment”, “tag”, or something of the sort after posting. Just like the drug user builds a tolerance, the social media users eventually become unsatisfied with the amount of likes, comments, or followers they receive and begin to seek more.
Just like the addict, the social media user will do anything ranging from posting more often, to posting more provocative/revealing pictures, to even sometimes buying followers in order to get that high of receiving a certain amount of notifications or just the thought of how they will be perceived when others see the amount of followers they have. Once again, sad but true.
After going more in-depth about each component, which I personally believe make the dynamics of Generation-Y and Social Media so toxic, it is obvious that my generation has a rather distorted idea of what we as people should gain satisfaction from and what determines our self-worth as individuals. We are all more than a like, comment, or follower count. Case in point, by letting anything other than yourself fill the role of human interaction, you are missing the chance to experience, learn, and to be exposed to a variety of perspectives and knowledge that can be attained from different people you will cross paths with.
Why these encounters are so vital to the human experience of the individual is because they are what give us wisdom and teach us life lessons that develop our ways of thinking and how we live our lives. It is imperative for Generation-Y to take a step back and acknowledge the fact that social media is not real life. If we continue to seek satisfaction externally by means of non-human interaction then we will never find that fulfillment we all long for. It is time for us to take back what social media has robbed us of, and begin to make more of an effort to interact in the presence of one another in order to truly know the value of authentic communication or how important it is to the human experience.