It seems as though the problem with social media has become the awkward elephant in the room. Everyone acknowledges it, but fails to do anything about it. I believe it is safe to say most of us are a little guilty of spending more time on social media than we would like. But exactly how “social” has this become?
Studies have shown that using social media excessively can lead to envy and affect emotional well-being, mostly with women. This is leading to more cases of depression due to the unrealistic comparisons people make with others after scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other accounts. However, it was never supposed to be like this. Social media should be just that: social.
One study published in the journal of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, showed that those who logged in to social media in order to engage in conversations and then log back out had much more positive experiences. Those who simply scrolled through various accounts and “stalked” others for hours on end without actually engaging had negative experiences.
As we know, any time we use something as it is meant to be used, we save ourselves from unnecessary suffering. Social media is not the exception. Not only does misuse of social media actually make us antisocial while we are online, it takes away from our experiences in reality. What once were places to engage in conversation and meet people, be it the subway, doctor’s office, or line at a café, are now an excuse to take out our devices to “pass the time.” It is diminishing our ability to be patient and remain in solitude.
Patience comes from the Latin root “pati” meaning to suffer, or endure. What is happening to us that we cannot, in a sense, “suffer” for a few minutes on the subway? It is in these moments when we take the time to simply be and think that our imagination is able to run and we get to know ourselves (or possibly a new friend). Instead, we fill in the little time we have left in between our already busy schedules with filtered images that rarely mirror reality. Then we wonder, “Why am I always so busy yet unproductive?”
Most of my family lives in Poland, and we use social media as a way to communicate on a regular basis. We are able to video chat and send each other pictures as a way to update each other and stay connected. Technology, and more specifically social media, is very useful and convenient when used the way it was intended: to socialize! That is why what I am suggesting is a balance.
I propose a challenge:
-staying logged out of our social media accounts rather than having them readily available on our phone
-setting a concrete time limit in which we log in, in order to catch up quickly and engage, and then give ourselves a break
-simply slow down
I really enjoy music festivals and concerts. But what I have noticed over the years is that fewer people are actually present during them. Instead of closing our eyes and singing along to the songs, many of us are desperate to get this song on Snapchat or get the perfect Instagram shot of our favorite band. I am guilty of this too.
What happens when we do this? We miss out on the entire experience. It is okay to make some memories, but if we are living behind our phones constantly, are we looking back at real memories or only a recording of self-fabricated moments? Let's use social media to be less absent and more present to reality; to be less isolated, and more connected.
“Authentic human contact is the foodstuff of the psyche; in its absence, we become internally arid and diminished.”
Coughlan, S. (2016). Facebook lurking makes you miserable, says study. BBC News. Retrieved on March 17, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/education-38392802
Hoffman, E. (2016). How to Be Bored. New York, NY.
Monika is currently a nurse at a children’s hospital in NY where she takes care of sick youngsters. She is involved with the Frassati NYC group and considers Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati her most admired Blessed. On her days off, she enjoys hiking, taking pictures, writing poetry, and reading countless books. Traveling around the world and exploring different cultures is one of her favorite adventures to embark on. Her heart belongs in Poland where her family resides along with many sites dedicated to her dearest saint – St. John Paul II.