We’ve been surrounded by social media for our entire lives. Facebook was started before some first-years and sophomores were able to even comprehend what a computer is. We have not experienced a time without instant and direct connectivity to our friends and peers. We’ve even been called Screenagers.
The New York Times published a story about how Apple’s new “Screen Time” feature worked and how much the author’s teenager used her phone. Unsurprisingly, the time spent was staggeringly high (over six hours).
A member of the Trinitonian staff commented on how his phone filled free time during the week and how the screen time feature showed how bad his week was. Others commented that their screen time was much higher than they expected, sometimes topping six hours per day.
Platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook (among others) are often at the top of these screen time leaderboards. These social networks serve as ways for us to connect with our friends and maintain friendships that otherwise wouldn’t be as strong as they are. But they can also be toxic.
The human brain is trained to like rewards, and social media provides the instant gratification and appreciation that we seek. We seek the staggeringly high “like” count on an ACL photo on Instagram or a tweet that seems to be receiving more and more “likes” by those in and out of our network. Keeping long Snapchat streaks seems like a necessity, but is it worth the cost?
Seeing your friends at both Trinity and other schools having “the time of their life” may give you the impression that their college experience is better than yours, or that they never have bad days. But that’s not true. Social media highlights the happy moments and masks those that are subpar.
What we see on social media is not a perfect representation of everyone’s life. We’re allowed to have bad days. Don’t have a “fear of missing out” because of what you see on social media — everyone has their own demons, their good days and bad days.
If you’re feeling down, counseling services is a great start. You can walk in from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. But if you’re looking for a good way to de-stress, try taking a break from social media. You’ll find that you have more time and you’re not so caught up in others’ impression of you.