Social media kills living in the moment

Meredith Webber, Columnist 

Spring break is finally here. You climb out of the cramped backseat after the five-hour drive, quickly stretch, throw your bags in the hotel room and run toward the beach.You pull out your phone to take a picture of the waves, choose the perfect filter and type the witty caption you came up with during the long drive, all before you even step off the boardwalk.

My friends all did the same thing when we arrived to St. Augustine Beach. I would have too, under normal circumstances. However, I chose to limit my time on social media for Lent.

It was easier than expected at first and felt a little empowering. But then I started noticing all the times I would pull out my phone to scroll through Instagram while walking to class or when I felt left out of a conversation at dinner.

Social media disconnects us from people in our lives. Society has come to believe that sending a couple of snapchats back and forth or liking a friend’s status counts as genuine human interaction. Without social media, you are forced to actually talk to people to find out what is going on in their lives. This verbal communication allows you to better understand a person’s feelings in a way that can be masked by the filters people put on themselves—and their photos—on social media.

It is not a surprise that people on social media portray themselves in the best way possible. However, this leads to a false perception that our friends’ lives are a lot better than they truly are. This makes people feel the need to prove themselves on social media.

Imagine all the times you have been taking pictures with friends and someone instructs, “laugh like we are having a good time!” While this does not appear intentionally harmful, this contributes to false perceptions that distract from what is really happening in our lives.

The fear of missing out, or “FOMO,” is often the reason that users are constantly refreshing their feeds. This is a valid concern.

Plenty of birthdays have been forgotten because Facebook was not there as a reminder. I did not know what a lot of people did for spring break.

However, I had a deeper appreciation for the things I did see on spring break because I was seeing them through my own eyes and not my phone screen while I was trying to take a picture. We should be more afraid of missing out on what is right in front of us than a Facebook post.

Try disconnecting from your phone and reconnecting with the people in your life for a day, weekend or even a week. I am sure that increased phone battery life will not likely be the only benefit.

Webber is a freshman journalism and mass communication major.

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