In today’s society, most people we know use social media. Whether it be Instagram, Snapchat, or even Facebook, a majority of our friends and family are connected online through these platforms. The main basis of these platforms is to share messages, pictures, or videos with friends, family, or even the world. Personally, I’ve had my first social media account, Instagram, since I was just 7 years old. Having spent almost a decade on social media, my relationship with it has come to the point where I am recognizing both the benefits and drawbacks of these types of platforms, particularly questioning whether social media causes us to be more connected or disconnected from reality and to society.
Social media has the ability to help us stay connected with friends or family that we may not be able to see as often as we would like to and the world around us. We can keep in touch with our friends from the summer camp that we went to two years ago, or the cousins that live on the other side of the state through platforms such as Snapchat or Instagram. Further, social media makes it hard for us to “forget” about some of the people that we’ve met in the past; when someone we know posts or uploads to social media, we are reminded of their presence and more likely to reach out to them and ultimately keep better in touch with them than if we did not have social media. The presence of news and influential figures on social media also helps us to stay updated to the world around us. If something big happens anywhere in the world, someone is bound to post about it online. This allows people to stay informed, as many people also use social media as a way to get their news. This can bring awareness to important problems, such as the one we have with global warming or within politics.
While social media can help us be connected in some ways, it also has the ability to contribute to our disconnectedness in others. Those who are obsessed with their presence on social media fail to “live in the moment” and truly enjoy themselves. A classic example is someone who goes to a garden but focuses on taking pictures of the flowers to upload on social media instead of absorbing its beauty in real life. Another example is someone who spends all their time looking at social media when they should be enjoying the time spent with family or friends in real life. Scrolling through Facebook under the table when you should be talking over a dinner with friends causes someone to fail to quite literally look up and face reality. This can lead to a lack of meaningful life experiences and relationships with those around us.
Social media’s effect on our relationship with the outside world is paradoxical: it has the ability to both connect us to society but disconnect us from those closest to us and reality. The best way to reap the benefits of social media without coming to the point where we’re disconnected from the world around us and reality is to limit the time that we spend on it. No one but you can convince yourself to do this; at the end of the day, it’s up to you as an individual to decide what to do with your time and life, but self-awareness and control are imperative if we truly want to remain connected to society.