I grew up connected. Mind you, when I was a kid we still had dial up internet, not the super fast broadband that’s pretty standard nowadays. But if you talk to my parents, they’ll tell you about the magical time that was the when the internet was first starting out. My mom always jokes about how even though she could use the internet for her college research, she found it quicker and easier to use encyclopedias.
I think my mom would probably choose a Google search if she had to do college research today. Technology is expanding and evolving so rapidly that it seems like we as humans are becoming more and more connected to something (phone, tablet, computer, new app) everyday. But is being connected a good or bad thing? Fair warning: being connected can be great in moderation. Social media addiction is a real thing that can affect your life in a variety of ways.
Being connected all of the time is a literal time suck. Just think about it. How much time do you spend looking at your Facebook or scrolling your Twitter feed? How much time do you spend thinking about that perfect Instagram caption? According to recent research, the average time spent on social media per day is 135 minutes, up 45 minutes from 2012. And when your internet browser or social media site doesn’t load in five seconds, do you freak out?
We’re so focused on being connected all the time that when we’re not, we think something is wrong.
Social media also creates a world of fakeness. We make friends with people we haven’t seen or talked to since high school. We create an image of ourselves on our profiles that shows almost everything in our lives being positive because we’re scared to make ourselves look bad or admit that there are problems in our lives. With the recent influx of Instagram influencers, we feel the need to compare ourselves to people we see on social media, making ourselves more unhappy.
We are living in the camera or in the internet or in our emails instead of living in the real world! We take pictures of our food before we eat so that we can post it. We feel the need to fact check everything our friends say. We check our emails at dinner or other social gatherings for fear that we might miss something important. We live in a constant state of FOMO (fear of missing out), but we’re forgetting to actually live in the moment because we’re trying to document it for our followers.
Being connected in this digital age allows us to stay up to date on the latest topics. We’re almost always informed, but the negative here is that some news can be “fake news”. News stories come out and quickly pick up steam by being shared on social media sites and throughout the internet. The internet also allows for multiple views of different subjects, giving readers a chance to look at the event or problem in several different ways.
The internet is full of things! Some things are more useful than others, like dictionary and encyclopedia websites, where you have almost all the knowledge of the world at your fingertips. We have become more efficient with our searches for information, as well as how we do things. There are apps to help you with directions, apps for online banking, apps for language learning.
One of the best things about social media is that if allows you to maintain relationships. Living in Spain, posting my vacation pictures on Facebook is a great way to keep my family up to date with what I’m doing and where I am. Social media sites also allow me to stay in contact with people I meet abroad.
No matter how you feel about being connected, it has both positive and negative aspects. In the end, what’s important is that we remember to take time to disconnect from our digital world and live in the real one. And on the other hand, we remember to connect to learn about what’s happening in the world and lives of those around us.
Also published on Medium.