Why social media is costing our generation opportunities -- a student perspective
Posted August 9, 2012
I'm a college student, and I have a love/hate relationship with social media. (Similar to my relationship with carbohydrates.) I love social media because of the consistent entertainment (laughs) it provides, but hate it because of how social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) have robbed my generation.
Before you categorize this as an anti-Twitter article that you'll tweet #isntworthreading, let's get a few things straight:
•I believe the concept of social media is great
•This article does not apply to businesses
•I have a Facebook & Twitter account, although I haven't been convinced to download Instagram...yet
•This is simply an evaluation and self-help guide for our generation about how we spend our lives, communicate, and participate in life experiences
•This does not apply for those times when you're bored out of your mind in a class/meeting, using social media to stay awake (I get that)
OK, now that we have an understanding, I'll continue.
Social media has created an alternate universe for us. And consequently, people have created alternative personalities (Twitter alter egos, so to speak). Just take a look at some of these actual Twitter handles/usernames: @iSpeak_mines, @LusciousPink___, @ItsPapi_Chulo, @alreadytookher, @Ottimus_Prime, @swishersosweet, @ChanelRoyal...you get the point. While our social media selves are quoting every verse of a Drake or Adele song, our real selves are missing out on life.
The average user our age spends 24.5 hours a week interacting with social media. That's an entire day, plus some! FOur or five days every month...sacrificed for (insert your preferred social media site here). People have admitted to tweeting while giving birth, getting married, driving, going out on a first date, seeing a movie, and of course while working.
We're being robbed of real life enjoyment by digital life expression.
When I traveled to Spain last month, I didn't have Internet access unless I was somewhere with free wifi (which usually wasn't the case, y'all.) Therefore, my iPhone was useless. I was blessed to be in Madrid, Spain for the celebration of Spain winning the Euro2012 (BIG soccer championship/BIG deal in Europe.) The entire city was going bananas as the team and coaches paraded through the crowded streets on bright red double decker buses. It was the most people I've ever seen at one time...imagine Disney World in the heat of summer...but on steroids. Lots of people. Lots of crazy people. I wanted to share the experience with my family and best friends back in America, but I couldn't. At first I was upset about my global technological hindrance, but then I reevaluated the situation. I told myself, "I'm in Spain. Right now. During a historical moment. Even though I wish I could share this moment with loved ones, I will share it with my classmates and others here. Everything happens for a reason. This is my life and I'm going to live it and enjoy every second I get. I can tweet about this later..."
After that little pep talk/reality check, I got into what was going on around me, started screaming cheers in Spanish, jumping alongside a 70-year-old Spanish woman wearing a red-and-yellow furry wig, and I started feeling the pride and happiness that was engulfing me. I can honestly say that I lived and experienced that moment.
And I've decided to bring this mentality back to the States.
I used to be guilty of TIE. That's Tweeting Instead of Experiencing. I know you follow people or maybe you're that person on Twitter who goes to some incredible event/concert/show/party/whatever and spends more time trying to create the perfect #hashtag instead of truly participating and taking in what's happening. It seems innocent, but if you're tweeting or updating your Facebook status while at the event, you can't really be paying attention.
Communicating through social media has also decreased our real life communication skills, which is sad. Think about how many opportunities to meet new people that we've missed because we were too busy sharing "what we're doing" to introduce ourselves to the person sitting next to us at an event. He or she could be your next Twitter follower or soul mate! But you'll never know if you don't take the time to say hello with your mouth, instead of your keyboard.
When I say real life experiences, I don't mean watching an awards show or the newest episode of Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta. Who doesn't "BAHA" at all of the ridiculous thoughts people post during those showings. I'm referring to going to a party and tweeting every 2.5 minutes about the food, SOLO cup colors, shoes someone is wearing, how drunk you're getting, etc. Sounds like you're having fun...but are you?
I've learned and realized that when I'm really having fun, really living in the moment, or really busy - I don't have time to share it via social media...until it's over. Next time you're somewhere and are considering sharing, ask yourself if you're really loving what you're doing or making what you're doing seem worth loving?
In a generation where engagements, pregnancies, Nike sneaker heels, and sob stories cloud our News Feeds, how do we find the happy medium between social media and real life? A few tips:
- Limit your time online: sometimes when the foolery of Facebook or Twitter gets to be too much, I’ll delete the applications from my phone for a few days or just make a conscious effort to not use them. I’m forced to do other tasks and always end up being more productive
- Share experiences after they occur: instead of sharing what you’re doing every minute, enjoy what you’re doing then share.
- Take a few pictures, then enjoy: with over 5,000 photos on my laptop, I would never even think of telling someone not to take pictures. My new tactic at events/functions is to take a few photos at the beginning, then enjoy. (Sort of like prom.)
- Have a set time when you use social media: whether it’s the last ten minutes of your lunch break or right before bed, having a determined time for online socializing will make it easier to control the time you spend in the digital world
- Use your new free time for what you love. I feel like our generation is a half apathetic half hyper-short term passionate one. Either we don’t care about what’s happening around us, or we’re activists for an issue for all of two days. I really admire people with long term and deep passions, but it takes time and dedication to develop these passions.
See, not bashing Twitter. Just advising that we use our time wisely so that when we look back on our younger years, we’ll have more to show for it than a Facebook status. After you tweet this article, be sure to step away from the computer/put down the smart phone and live a little.