Social media has become such a prominent part of our generation that we rarely stop to notice the impact that it has upon our lives. Not only has it become a multi-media sensation that plagues us with constant alerts on our hand-held devices every day, it has interweaved itself into the many facets of our life like school, work, and our social lives.
There was once a time before the morning wake-up routine of blinking into the bright blue-white light from our iPhones, when we were not so easily accessible or able to access millions of strangers all over the world through apps on our phones, and we weren’t defined by how many followers or likes we had.
We woke up, went to school or work, had lunch with friends, participated in sport or recreational activities and then had dinner with our families at home all without glancing at our screens. We had discussions without distraction, we had social lives without the need to “check-in” on Facebook or post a photo on Snapchat or Instagram, we had meals with loved ones without scrolling through our news feeds just in case something new has come up, we watched movies or read books without digging through the histories on celebrity Twitter accounts, we reached out to people for face-to-face support rather than people we hope notice our status updates. Basically, our lives were our own.
Despite the illusion that social media brings us closer together, it actually distracts us from the fact that we are withdrawing more and more from being present in our daily lives and from connecting with people face-to-face.
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In a world where young women idolise photo-shopped and over-publicised Instagram models and fall into dangerous patterns of eating disorders and low self-esteem, social media has taken over our lives and there seems to be no escaping it.
According to study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2013, “children as young as three years old have their own iPads and can even manage iTunes accounts, whilst teenagers on average reportedly spend up to 7.5 hours on social media per day.” A research paper based on lectures at the Nottingham University describes how the constant access to social media has increased our risk of insomnia (especially while using it in bed as 95% of us do) and has resulted in a lack of concentration and focus during the day.
Cyber-bullies and social media also seem to go hand-in-hand. Television personality Charlotte Dawson committed suicide February 22nd 2014 after losing her struggle with depression and being hounded by bullies on social media who even told her to “hang herself”. Radio host Sam Frost has also spoken out about the devastating impact trolls have had on her life, even tweeting once that her bullies had “won”.
On Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the family went to Cuba where there’s no social media! They connected with each other, their surroundings and participated more in activities, even noting that everyone there seemed so happy.
Prince Ea says it best in his video “Can we auto-correct humanity?” where he raps about the dangers of social media taking over and how we needn’t ban it from our lives, but learn how to not let it take over. It’s all about quality of life!