by Sherese Case
Is social media taking over our lives? I’ll let you answer that one. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up everyday? For most the answer would be “I pick up my cellphone and go on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.” There is rarely anyone in today’s society that does not have some form of social media account. These things have such an impact on our lives that we tend to feel isolated or “out of the loop” if we do not have one. Sure enough it has made communicating with people all over the world easier, but it has definitely become a distraction. With the many advancements to technology, social media is at the tip of our very fingers and we cannot fight the urge to indulge in it.
If we take a look back to when Myspace was the most popular social networking site for teenagers, it would show that online use was not to the capacity that it is now. Assuming that most of us did not have smartphones at this time, the way we would communicate and check our profiles was through our desktop computers. This made myspace less of a distraction to us because we were not able to log on when we were in class. As soon as we would get home we would log on to our myspace accounts and spend countless amount of hours there until we were tired. Now with the increase of smartphones and apps, social media is more accessible now than ever. This has led to an increase in the amount of young adults and teenagers having social networks accounts. According to the article Social Media and Young Adults by Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, and Zickuhr, about 73 percent of teenagers said they used social networking websites in 2013 compared to 55 percent in 2006. With this information we are able to conclude that one of the reasons for this significant increase is due to easier access.
One of the popular forms of social media happens to be Instagram. Now seen as a form of entertainment for many. From funny post to people posting “cute” selfies, is this affecting us in some way? When we were on Facebook they were called “friends” and now on Instagram they’re referred to as “followers.” In many cases some people desire to have a lot of followers because this to them shows that they are liked by others. But what we can also ask our selves is “Do these ‘followers’ influence what we post?” Often times when we post a picture on Instagram that means we either like the picture or can relate to it (selfies included). There are usually two scenarios that follow: One where our pictures gets the amount of likes that satisfies our ego and the other where our picture does not get the amount of likes we expected and this in return makes us feel like what we thought was good was apparently not good enough. Isn’t it crazy to think that with just the tap of their screen someone can have so much influence on how we feel about ourselves. In his article Social Media and the Rise of Internet Validation, author Michael Hedrick raises a good point, he asks “Where does the deep need for social validation come from.” This is precisely the question users should be asking themselves.
When we follow someone on Instagram, we have high hopes that they will follow us back; especially when its someone we find attractive. But the result can sometimes be good and sometimes really saddening. Social media has taken over our lives so much that if this person follows us back we think “Oh, they must think I’m interesting or they must find me attractive!” but when they don’t follow us back that really becomes more than just a follow back. We start to think that maybe we’re not as good-looking or interesting as we thought. According to the article Generation Validation: Why Everyone Just Wants to Be Liked by author Annie Daily, we have become so accustomed to getting praised online that when we go about our daily lives we expect the same thing to happen. We all want to be liked in some form because some way some how this makes us feel really good about ourselves, it makes us feel important. But we can’t have it all, not everyone is going to like us or like what we like.
Many people have become famous off of social media, that it has now become very common for people to start promoting their businesses on social networks. Vine has been one of the many social media outlets that people have gained fans rapidly from. The very basics of it is to post short 6 second videos of many things, it is mostly used for short funny videos. Some people have excelled in this and have become “Vine Famous.” It has so much power that people have became famous overnight from others just “revining” their post resulting in them gaining thousands or even millions of followers. Alyson Shontell’s article Meet the Stars of Vine shows that not only have these people gained fame but also fortune. This has become a launch pad for people and their careers and also an easy way for them to make profits. Viners who have millions of followers on vine get paid numerous amounts of money just to advertise for companies. While we might have just clicked “revine” this has probably just increased the amount of money they could potential receive. Now we have to ask ourselves; if has become so easy to gain fame through social networks, what will become of the Hollywood life that we all dreamed of. I think now its all about putting yourself out there. We have seen the capabilities of social media so basically if you want to become famous its possible, you just have to find a way to appeal to the public.
Jeffrey Ambrose’s Dating in the 21st Century takes on the topic of how social media is also altering the way we communicate with people in today’s modern society. Dating websites are popular among older adults who “can’t find a partner the old fashioned way” and apps like “Tinder” have become some form of dating websites for the younger generation. Before social media impacted the dating world, people like our parents, grandparents etc. dated someone who they frequently saw. This person could lived in their neighborhoods or went to the same school, but mostly they would date people whom they had actually met before. Now with the invention of online dating and dating apps, people are communicating with others that may live as far as a different state. Dating has also taken on a different form; on apps like Tinder sometimes people are not necessarily looking for someone to date, they could just be looking for someone to talk to. But is it necessary for us to need someone to talk to all the time and why can’t we just talk to the friends that we already have and know personally. Social media has made it so much easier for us to get to know people from so many different places, that we probably figure why not make use of it.
The most popular social media of all, Texting. Teenagers and young adults rarely pick up their phones and call people anymore, because texting is faster and more efficient. I think even older adults are becoming more accustomed to texting. Our cellphones have become our best friends. How many of us have done this; when we’re somewhere by ourselves and we want to look like we’re not bored or lonely, we just act like what ever is on our cell phone is the most interesting thing right now, you know you’ve done that before. The increase in texting has also resulted in many tragedies. A lot of people have lost their lives from drivers who think that they can text and drive at the same time. As we know when you only have one pair of eyes, it is impossible to have them focused on two different things at the same time. Everyone knows this, so why do we risk our lives just to reply to a text message that is going to be on our phones for as long as we let it?
When doing a task that requires us to actually think it seems like time is moving in slow motion—we get bored and tired so easily. But if I may, I would like to point out the fact that people have spent countless hours on social media and hardly even realize it. If we were to calculate the amount of time we spent on our social networks I wonder how many hours a day that would be. Often times we get distracted and go on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube or any other social media website you can think of. It is something that many people cannot go a day without doing, it has become so embedded in our daily routine that its hard to break this habit. We no longer get our daily news from newspapers or from watching CNN or MSNBC. We just go on twitter, Instagram or Facebook and we know exactly what’s going on within our community. Social media has reached such great depths that it makes you wonder—what does the future have in store?