The Toxicity of Social Media
January 12, 2020
Have you ever thought about how much of your life is dedicated to social media? Don’t just consider how much time you spend on certain applications, but also how much thought you dedicate to them. Can you even sit at home for a while and let your mind wander without a burning sense of anxiety creeping in, urging you to check your phone? In my own life, I have frequently felt chained to these alternate, virtual realities. At times, it is hard to find peace and freedom.
Each morning we all wake up to go to school, which is a massive social arena. Because Cistercian is a small school, it is intimate. I value the interactions I have with friends, classmates, and teachers, but there is no doubt that some days those seven and a half hours can be rather strenuous. Each afternoon, we go home and enter completely new social platforms on Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever you might use. Doesn’t that feel like you’re never given a break or some time just to be alone with your thoughts? Instead, we’re concerned with what other people are doing. It’s not natural. Instead of having real experiences in our lives, we need the cool things we do to be seen by all our friends. That can ruin the purpose of the things you do. Moments in my own life have been entirely ruined by social media. For instance, have you noticed that when people are at concerts, they’re filming every minute of the show? Do you need everyone to know where you are? It seems some people have lost the ability to be in the moment and have a real experience.
Again, think about how much of your life is dedicated to social media. I know it’s an obvious point, but most things online aren’t very real. The motives behind each post are, most of the time, flawed. For example, people post about awareness all the time, but they’re exploiting sad situations to make themselves seem righteous. When people are commenting, posting, taking selfies, or texting, they’re thinking about it so much that it makes it unnatural and forced. It’s almost like everyone out there is a digital marketer with one goal: to make themselves look great. But that’s not real; none of it is.
It’s hard to accept, but the human brain is best without social media. All the thought dedicated to it is too much. On some platforms, namely Snapchat, people are spending countless time sending selfies back and forth with one another. Many teenage boys and girls will judge how the other person looks, but social media can never fully define a person. No angle, lighting, or filter could ever sum up who someone truly is. Compare it to a day of normal life where you interact in genuine conversation and see people’s beautiful, real faces. Life is grand, and social media takes life, warps it, and makes it overwhelming. Once you understand how flawed social media is, you begin to become disgusted with it.
Last April, I deleted Snapchat for good because I wasn’t able to sit next to my phone without feeling like I had to check the app every five minutes. It ruined things like listening to music, playing guitar or even something as straight forward as watching TV. For a few days, I was in the greatest mood because I wasn’t distracted by social media. I was able just to sit down and focus on what was in front of me. I saw beauty in things I had often ignored. Think of a time when there wasn’t a phone in our pocket. When we were driven to school, instead of starting the day by delving into our Instagram feeds, we were forced to look out the window and daydream. Maybe you listened to the radio and hoped for your favorite song to come on next. It is not healthy that whenever we are bored, we turn to our phones. That’s just giving up. You’re not only training your brain to throw in the towel and shut down, but you’re also ignoring what’s right in front of you. Being able to ignore social media for a while, and be in the moment and simply live is a great thing.
Life can be best compared to a journey down a river. It can be cold, out of control, and demanding, but at the end, it’s all worth it. You should be able to look back on your life when it’s almost over and be grateful for all of it. You should be able to look back on your experiences and be satisfied with them, comfortable that everything happened for a reason. The truth is these applications can become just like parasites. Once more, think about how much thought you devote to them. Social media platforms inhibit your brain and urge you to go on them so often. I bet that it’s hard for most of us to go an hour without checking social media, and that’s not something we should be comfortable with. Do Instagram and Snapchat (or whatever else) even make you satisfied? I know that I never really feel that way. Many of us just become consumed in a state of judgment, where we are always judging ourselves and judging others based on what we see online. Is that how you want to live? We should all be able to take a break once in a while and live purely in the moment. It is indeed the case that social media has become a rather toxic presence in our lives.
The views expressed within this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Cistercian or The Cistercian Informer.