By Emily Halpern
Is social media even social? When you think about it, it couldn’t be more antisocial. Time spent curled up behind a smartphone, not talking to anyone, while scrolling and posting our way through Instagram, Snapchat, etc. is actually a very individual, and even lonely activity. It is you, yourself, and the screen. According to Statista, global internet users are now spending upwards of 2.25 hours each day on purely social media alone. Over two hours per day, being the opposite of social, on this thing we call “social” media. Not only are people spending way too much time on these platforms, but they are using Snapchat and texting as their sole mediums of communication. This fact alone has damaged the social skills of our generation, making our phones the easier and more convenient way to stay in touch with people, rather than talking in person or even through phone calls. This type of communicating will just never compare to face-to-face contact.
Social media is in fact ruining our social skills. The core of this problem lies with one troubling fact that affects almost everyone in today’s tech savvy age: the smartphone addiction. While 2.25 hours is spent on social media, Sarah Perez from TechCrunch found that data from Flurry, an analytics firm, states that we all spend merely 5+ hours just using our phones each day, which is absurd. Think about all the actual socializing, reading, working, enjoying nature, and living in the moment that could be done during that 5 hours. It makes you reevaluate how wasteful being on your phone is, and how our phone consumption takes over a large part of the day. The reality is, this number will probably continue to increase over time, if I had to predict based on where we are at now as a society.
To gain some more insight on this topic, I downloaded the app Checky, which tracks the number of times you check your phone each day. At the end of the first day with the app, I had checked my phone over eighty times, understanding that roughly 95% of these were checking social media. It was at this point I became fully aware of my own smartphone addiction, and have since made a conscious effort to stay off of my phone, using it only when absolutely necessary.
With that being said, spending so much time on our smartphones and social media is only hurting us. When was the last time you had a full-length conversation from beginning to end, without you both checking your smartphones at least once? I notice this all the time on campus and beyond, and I do this far too often myself. We need to collectively as a generation be more aware of our phone usage, because even looking at our phones once or twice when with one or more people, is ultimately lessening our social skills. It is obvious that socializing and talking to one another in-person has become more difficult and less of the norm for a lot of people.
Furthermore, people are getting together with their friends more and more often for the sole purpose of being able to post about it on social media. We should be spending quality time with our friends and family, without social media in mind, and sadly this is not the case. Far too often people go to trendy restaurants or unique sights with their friends or family, only in the hopes of getting the perfect picture for Instagram with hopefully a couple hundred likes to follow. “Doing it for the ‘gram” should not be the goal of getting together with others, and this fad takes away from the quality time. Some people also only post on social media when they are with friends, almost as if they are trying to prove to other people the worth of their social life. This is obviously not a healthy relationship to have with these platforms. Our lives should not revolve around social media, because there is a big beautiful world out there to explore that we are missing by wasting time on Facebook and the like.
Lastly, we all place a great deal of value on the actions of others on social media and how those actions supposedly affect our relationships with others. For example, people get upset when someone they thought was their friend does not like or comment on an Instagram photo, or opens a Snapchat, but does not immediately respond. These rather meaningless actions now mean so much to people. This proves that people consider likes, followers, and comments on social media just as, if not more important than, in-person interactions. We care more about what is done online than in person, and that alone has hurt the social skills of our generation as a whole.
Social media has become an integral part of our lives. Sadly, we are at the point of no return, and the damage has been done. Moving forward, all we can do is increase our own personal awareness of our social media and phone usage, and place greater value on living in the moment.