Social media has been around ever since I was young. I grew up with it. In many ways, I was one of the hippy-types that used most social media platforms before they got “mainstream”.
And I’ve seen its eventual rise, like most people who have also grown up with it. From the early days of AOL, Xanga, and MySpace to the Facebook and Insta of today.
It’s nearly impossible to find someone that doesn’t use at least one type of social media platform. Even those who don’t like them have to partake, for one reason or another (I have a ton, because of this website).
In a way, I feel like social media will always be a part of my life. When you grow up with something, it becomes a memory you don’t want to throw away.
But with the adoption of social media by practically everyone, it has become increasingly vain. Instead of being about connection or expression as it was when it was first rising, it has become more of a platform to yell “look at me”.
There is so little value in most social media postings/pictures. They serve an almost singular purpose to increase someone’s ego or to share a different version of our actual lives (the highlights only).
For the longest time, I was a part of that second group. I shared pictures of extravagant travel destinations, fancy things I did, and big news about my successes.
When I met people that I was connected with on those platforms, they all only knew me by that life. They didn’t know the real me.
I created a persona of what I wanted to be. Which is something most of us do. But why?
Instead of building connections, we snap a 10 second picture to someone. Instead of communicating with others, we like their comments.
The vanity of social media has taken us so far from reality that we have even had the emergence of ‘social media celebrities‘.
People whom are famous, just for being vanity-driven on social media.
But the issue isn’t just the vanity, it’s also what I consider the blinding of failure.
When we get bored, we look at our phones. When we are on a break, we check our computer. Before going to sleep, we again look at our phones.
That silent time, the time without technology, is an important time. It’s a time when we have to address our own shortcomings.
When I’m alone, I have to think about what I’ve done with my life. Where I want to go. What I’ve done well. What I’ve failed miserably at.
I can hide from all of those through social media. It’s not just hiding from being bored, it’s hiding from accepting the truth about myself.
And without answering those questions on a continual basis, how will any of us ever reach what we actually want to reach?
I see so many people in their careers and in their life that just hate it. Hate their job, don’t have an equitable hobby to make up for the lost 50 hours a week. But likewise, have no drive to change it. They’re hiding from their own desires. I truly believe a prime component of that is social media.
And I believe that because it’s what happened to me. I would avoid any type of anxiety about my own situation by never being bored. Constantly looking up stuff online, sending pictures, sharing pointless things.
When I cut off social media, I had to come to terms with boredom. And part of that is thinking about yourself. And a prime piece of that included thoughts about all my wasted potential.
But more importantly, I thought about how I could utilize my potential in the future to make a life I actually wanted. A life that I would previously try to portray through social media.
It’s common to think that social media connects people through means nothing else ever could. But does it really “connect” us? Or does it just waste time and provide lackluster relationships?
Every friendship I have built is through powerful personal connections with someone. Not through their Instagram. Or through Snapchat.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the power of these platforms and their importance in the emerging “inter-connected” world. But I despise the path it seems to be taking. The constant ego validation instead of successful aspirations; The lack of connection in place of fleeting life highlights.
And when this is coupled with the data privacy breaches, it only further exacerbates these issues.
Some people share so much that their entire life is encapsulated by social media. Every piece of them is a piece of that machine.
And when the next data breach happens? They have everything on our lives. From where we’ve been to where we want to go. That level of knowledge on our lives plastered around the walls of vanity is incomprehensible, as is the damage it could cause.
Social media will not be leaving us anytime soon. I don’t find much intelligent conversion that springs from it, but it can be an interesting tool. But like any tool, it must be used in the right hands.
We can’t let it overtake our own aspirations and acceptance of our failures. And we can’t put so much emphasis on trusting it with our private information.
Regardless of where it goes, I use it minimally now. Mostly just for this website and for keeping in touch with distant friends. However, I’m very interested to see where it goes in the future.
Between the constant vanity and the massive data breaches, I’m unsure if it will be a long-standing platform, or if our later generations will look back on us and wonder “Why?”.