The twenty-first century already has enough issues on its plate: climate change, migrant crises, widespread poverty, and political unrest as well as many, many more. But just when we thought that it couldn’t get any worse, a new problem has emerged: the problem of technological addictions, the problem of virtual personas, the problem of social media. When online social platforms first came out, people couldn’t get enough of them. They finally had the opportunity to connect with friends, colleagues, families, across the world; share opinions and search pressing questions on the internet within an instant; document and save memories on digital folders without the fear of lacking storage. But whilst the world has been progressing, when did it become so small and prying? Ever since people chose to live their lives online, they have seemed to be forgetting that the real world was where it all truly mattered.
The number of social media platforms has risen exponentially in the past decades. It began as a way for colleagues to connect and has transformed into chatting forums and addictive applications. People no longer seem to put their phones down. In fact, “the average US consumer spends a whopping 5 hours a day on these devices” (Flurry Mobile). This means that in today’s world, one plagued by social media and technology, it is essential to always keep a few things in mind:
Paramount to our existence is our mental and physical wellbeing. Social media ‘forces’ you to remain online for long periods of time in a stationary position with your eyes on a bright, blaring screen. Does that sound safe, let alone healthy? And then there’s the talk about FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out. Watching other people hang out and have fun makes you feel like you’re losing something. This addiction “is linked to loneliness and depression in and of itself… but the general overuse of mobile devices has negative effects on interpersonal [communication.]” (Chaudry et al. )
2. Your privacy:
Everything you put on the internet is public for the world to see. Your information, hobbies, opinions, and interactions: it’s all out there. Make sure you know that there is a fine line between what you want people to know about you and what they can find out. The internet is dangerous if we don’t use it safely or moderately. It’s healthy if you take a break. It’s healthy if there are limits.
Arguably the most important point. When you go on social media, there are no buffers, no filters as to what you can say. You usually don’t think before you type and press enter. And then you have to deal with the consequences of misunderstandings. When you text someone, you forget about being real to yourself and being yourself.
You can argue that being online has its perks: freedom of expression, the chance to learn, the option to be updated on what’s happening around you. But even if there are countless benefits, the disadvantages are causing the ultimate damage. Almost everyone is online. Almost everything we do is associated with the internet. It may seem simple to put your device down, to pick up a pen and paper to write a letter, to watch TV without Netflix. It may seem simple but if it was, wouldn’t it be a habit easy to break? The real challenge isn’t putting down your phone, it’s whether you can live your life without it. Now the question is, are you willing to try?