Those of us who are currently in college have experienced life like no generation before us. For many of us, we spent our formative years running outside with our siblings and friends, watching cartoons, playing with toys, and trying to beat games on our Gameboys; this is especially true for me. However, as we reached early middle school, social media really took off. Of course, Myspace, Facebook, and even Twitter were around in the early 2000s, but platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat undoubtedly perforated everyday life when I was 12 or 13 years old. I will admit I had all of these social media accounts in middle school, and still regularly use them today.
Today, however, I have a problem; my life is being overtaken by the time I spend on social media. I am sure I am just one of the masses that feels this way, but it is overwhelming how quickly this happened. As I said, I started using social media in middle school, but my social media use did not increase drastically throughout high school. While I enjoyed being connected to friends, I did not feel the need to always be connected with them, and I was usually busy after school.
When I went to college things changed. First, I was several hours away from my family and friends. That meant I started using social media more to stay connected. I would go on Facebook to see my mom’s new photos or Snapchat my sister about her day. Along with that, I was not as busy as I was in high school. With less after school activities, I had more time to access social media. However, those are not the main reasons I rack up more social media use each day.
Most of the time, I use social media as an escape. I escape from everything through social media, which is having a significant impact on my life. While I am maintaining my GPA and keeping up with most of my relationships, my overuse of social media is greatly affecting my happiness. I often use social media to escape from my emotions, but heading to social media only makes those emotions worse without me realizing it. On most platforms people only post positive parts of their lives—I mean look at the number of vacation pictures on Instagram!— which means that when I am at my lowest of lows, I head to a place where I follow hundreds of people posting about how brilliant their lives are. While I am using social media to escape to another reality, I am just entering a world where I am making myself feel even worse. Yes, I really enjoy seeing people be happy, but escaping to places like Instagram and Facebook only makes it harder on myself.
No matter which way I look at it, social media is taking time from me making myself happier.
However, when I get on Twitter, the content I receive is more humorous and informative, which presents a different problem. Here I escape to a world of comedy, similar thinking people, and news, which keeps my attention much longer than any other platform. That means instead of facing my problems, finding answers to my unanswered life questions—because who really wants to think about that?—or even taking the time to do the things I enjoy, I spend more than an hour a day looking at videos of dogs on Twitter. No matter which way I look at it, social media is taking time from me making myself happier.
As you have listened to me complain about my problems, you are probably thinking that the solution is pretty simple: Just stop using the apps or delete them. The problem is I have tried, but I keep coming back. I will start to reduce my usage, but I always come up with excuses. Or I will say I will start tomorrow just like many of us do with diets, and I never start tomorrow. Of the many times I have tried to beat this dependency, I always come back because I feel that once I disconnect, I disconnect from my generation. Today so much of our communication happens online, that skipping out for a day seems like I would never be able to catch up on the happenings politically and socially, especially in terms of popular culture. Unplugging feels almost impossible now, because each day I take in so much new information.
How can I fix this problem? Can I make my second attempt at battling this challenge effective? Do I give up? These questions linger in my mind often. I knew when I first went in search to end my troublesome relationship with social media that it wasn’t going to be an easy task. Now that I realized the extent of my problem and the faults in my first attempt, I am going to take baby steps into this process and see if I can spend less time tapping my life away. While I am still concerned and unsure how to end my clash with social media, there are so many tools and ideas to try to combat my social media dependency.