Social Media

XC: How Social Media Has Killed My Chance At A Peaceful Existence?

First off, OD! If you know me personally then you know that I am extreme when it comes to certain things and sayings. This is one of them, so I’ll start with the disclaimers:

  1. I am obviously existing. Now whether or not that is peaceful has been up to my mind lately.

  2. I cannot fully blame social media because the inventors and innovators that got this thing up and running are obviously geniuses. They are not the ones who told us to use social media for the trash that a lot of us do! I’m just saying…

  3. I’m sure that once all that I am currently feeling has had its chance to pass, I will reach a period of something-like-peace and something-like-happiness, but right now, I am suffering at the hands of all who sign onto these enticing apps (more drama — you see how this is an addiction? Lol, moving forward).

Social media has taken so much from us and also given us a ton, but this post is about what it’s taken away:

One: OUR EMPATHY

With the recent passing of Nipsey Hussle, we’ve had hours upon hours of footage, posts, comments, screenshots, and so on of his final moments or peoples thoughts on the events or conspiracy theories about why this horrible event happened.

Yes, we see the posts of those who knew him mourning the loss of their friend, mentor, and family member but the fact that the video of him lying lifeless on the ground is being shared thousands of times and the fact that people are tagging his wife in these pictures and videos shows that we, as a people, are missing something essential…

It seems as though many of us act out with the thought of a like or a comment before checking our effect on others first. The big picture is that someone lost their life mate, someone else lost their father, another person lost their son, but people’s first thought is usually to capitalize on it. Why?

TWO: OUR HONESTY

Many on social media are known for putting on airs about the goings ons of their lives. That or they are adding fake-deep captions to stock images found online, vain images from the multitude of selfies in their camera rolls, or onto plain black backgrounds.

We love to convince ourselves that we are more than what we really are, don’t we?

I’ll never understand this and maybe it’s because I am too honest with myself, but people will lie until they make themselves believe it. They will lie to get their way. They will lie to get what they want. And, they will lie to get to the top.

But, imagine a time where you just work hard and your work speaks in the place of your lies. Imagine a world where you don’t have to keep up with the facade that you’ve been living. Just imagine…

Social media is a place where it’s so easy to fake it. Filters, tags, followers, etc. make it easy and even appealing to lie, but imagine how much more influential you could be living out your real, honest-to-goodness, truth.

THREE: OUR ABILITY TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT

I used to be afraid of missing moments. I’m the person that loves to add special moments to my photo album with a brief description of what happened, who I was with, and what those moments made me feel, but, in being that person, I had to live my life through my lens or on my phone. Although my reasoning for wanting to live this way makes sense during the times that I’m adding the pictures to my album, these same reasons don’t make sense once I’ve thought about it.

Many of the moments that I allow myself to have are worth being in fully. So whether or not I want to capture them so that I can relive them later doesn’t matter! There is no experience like what you are currently experiencing!

But, you can’t have that joy if you’re constantly taking selfies into your phones camera, and you can’t have that joy if you’re too busy watching other people’s lives play out instead of living your own.

BUT, LET’S DISCUSS MY PEACE:

I decided to write this post because there are times where social media becomes so overwhelming for me. And, by that, I mean that I cannot stop flipping from one news story to the next. I’ll see news on something tragic like a plane crash, flip over to another source writing on a kidnapping, and then a story pops up about a 21-year-old college student being killed by someone who she mistakingly believed to be her Uber driver, and THEN news about an influential musical and charitable genius being gunned down in the community that he’s given so much to.

It gets overwhelming and those are the times that my peace starts to feel shaken.

And, I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well, just don’t look at the news stories”, and I’m just going to say that I wish it were that easy…

I know that many reach points of uneasiness because of social media, and I know that you get to this point for ranging reasons, but I’m just here to say DON’T BE AFRAID TO PUT YOUR PHONES DOWN AND LIVE IN THE MOMENTS.

LXXXIV: To Be A Child...

To be a child today is to be fearful and [hopefully] religious.

I want to start by saying that, children today have to be way stronger than I had to be as a a child and, for that, I feel so badly. They deal with issues that force them to grow up way faster than I could ever fathom having to grow.

We see it in the news, we see it in their actions as they get older and we see it in their faces, children have to deal with a lot, and this post is just to bring attention to a couple of the things that children may be dealing with that we may be ignoring.

FEAR IN ATTENDING PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Unfortunately, school shootings have become a thing that we see all too much. If there isn’t an actual school shooting, then there is a threat of yet another.

Students in elementary, middle and high school can’t even deal with the pressures and hard work tied to getting their education because they have to worry themselves with whether or not today will be the day that someone goes through with such senseless acts.

I remember being young and being afraid of the fire alarms going off, so I can’t even imagine having to deal with this type of fear as a youth.

EXPOSURE TO DEATH/SUICIDE/HOMICIDE

Never have we seen an influx in child suicides similar to what we have seen in these past couple of years.

The rate at which children are committing suicide, or turning on the television only to see senseless killing, or are otherwise exposed to death is alarming. It results in them learning these ways and starts the manifestation of these thoughts and actions.

When I was younger, I had no clue what suicide was let alone how to commit it myself, so the fact that children who are younger and younger, know what it is and how to do it is insane to me and, I’m sure, to their parents as well.

It takes additional work, but there has to be some elements of youth and innocence that we allow children to keep for a while — for their adulthood sanity and for their survival.

SOCIAL PRESSURES

When you’re young, you’re usually also impressionable whether you’ll admit it or not. The social pressures of everything around you seem appealing and, sometimes, you cave into things that you know are wrong.

These days, the pressures are endless, and I feel so badly for the children and the amount of strength that they have to exercise daily!

Now, when I was younger, I wasn’t interested in people apart from my family. I hung out with my grandma, dad and aunt all the time and when I wasn’t with them I was following my older sister around. They were my people of preference (and still are). As far as everyone else was concerned, it was hard to even get a word out of me until the end of middle school. So I was not fully exposed to social pressures the way that the youth are today.

But, I am here to say to any youth that come across this post:

The real strength is shown by your own restraint. Save ‘taking chances’ for the things that can change your lives for the better.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is super present in the lives of children. Parents are giving their kids tablets for games and Youtube; teens are requesting phones and registering for apps like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; and within all of these apps are those whose goal in life is to, in one way or another, harm children.

We all know that social media is a huge problem when you get the youth in the mix, so I am not even going to touch this topic apart from acknowledging that it is a problem.

LACK OF ADEQUATE PARENTAL FIGURES

Now, I’ll preface this by saying that there are a lot of good parents out there who are doing their absolute best to raise upstanding children, but there are also a lot of people out there who are completely neglecting their children. This leaves them to be raised by their surroundings, or what they see on the television or in movies, or really just anything else.

Even for the parents who are there and provide financially but do not talk to their children, or check on their children, or who just shove electronics into the faces of their children instead of being in their lives — these acts are, by definition, a lack of parental presence.

The youth of these upcoming generations need their parents more than ever. They need guidance more than ever. And, they need good examples more than ever.

Simply being there and listening to your child can go such a long way, but it’s something that so many parents forget…

Children will forever be the future, so why not be an integral part of the reason that they are great?

XVI: Living Life Through Our Screens — Is Social Media Harmful or Helpful?

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with social media, and I’m often left wondering why I allow a little icon on my phone to be the bearer of so much anxiety, self-doubt, and information overload. How does one maintain sanity in the digital space?

Sometimes I’m glad to be on social media, but other times I just want to delete every form of it and live my life without the constant need for validation from followers on a phone screen. My emotions always teeter between these two extremes, and here’s why:

The Cons of Social Media:

1) Social Media is an Illusion

These days it’s all about ‘living your best life.’ The thing is, by doing so, our social media accounts become less about ‘living’ that life and more about ‘showing’ people that we’re doing it. We go to restaurants to eat and enjoy great company, but we can’t do it without posting a photo of our delicious dish. We go on vacation, but every time we see a fascinating new location we have to Instagram it. If we explore the newest bar in town, we have to update our story because everyone else just has to know we were there. If you went and no one saw it on Snapchat, did you even really go? It starts to feel like life is more about capturing moments than actually living them.

Also, by portraying only the good things, we fail to be authentic. We forget to be exactly what it means to be human. 

I’m guilty of this too, and that’s why I hate it. For example, last summer I went to Italy and took numerous beautiful photos, posting about each location and its wonderful history as the journey progressed. But what I didn’t mention on social media is the varying degree of health issues, hospital visits, and horrible jet lag that accompanied the trip. In one of my favorite profile photos, no one would have guessed that I was wearing a heart monitor with electrodes strapped to my chest under my scarf, because I had been experiencing crazy panic attacks to the point where I couldn’t breathe. Judging by all my photos, you could never tell that the trip was anything but butterflies and roses.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REALITY. Remember this the next time you feel down because you’re not living life like the rest of those online celebrities do.

2) It’s the New Way to Be Passive Aggressive

Want to give your friend the cold shoulder? Easy. Stop liking their photos. They’ll notice your passive aggressive stance and then you’ll feel satisfied, because boy did you show them! Seriously, when did we start resorting to memes and vague “It’s not about you” messages in order to solve our conflicts? Why do we avoid real conversations? If you and your friend had a fight and he or she starts posting ambiguous quotes, or if the person you’re interested in ignores you but suddenly starts liking all your best friend’s photos, is this the way to be a mature adult and approach personal conflicts? I don’t think so. We’ve apparently lost the ability to be grownups and solve our problems directly.

3) Opinions Are Like Assholes . . . and You Know the Rest

Social media has become an echo chamber. Everyone is an armchair warrior. Everyone becomes an expert in everything, and if you offer a contrary opinion you suddenly become the enemy. People start deleting or blocking anyone who provides an opposing viewpoint, and before you know it the newsfeed has become a happy place where the only opinions you see are the ones you agree with. By constantly reinforcing only one perspective, while blissfully ignoring all the other ways to look at the world, we confine ourselves to a state of willful ignorance—the very opposite of being informed.

4) There is a Fine Line Between Vanity and Narcissism

There is a time and place for a great selfie, but if the only things you post are photos of your nearly naked body in all its perfectly toned (sometimes surgically altered) glory, while including an inspiring caption to make it seem like it’s not all about your body, then I have no desire to keep that content on my feed. I just don’t see the point. Fake 'Instagram model' personalities and brand worshipping add absolutely no value to my life. I enjoy seeing photos of friends going fun places, I enjoy photos of their pets or their children, and I will totally support my friends if they post a great swimsuit shot or a picture where they’re rocking an amazing outfit. But if someone’s account is comprised of nothing but narcissistic self-importance, then . . . meh. I can do without it in my life. The hard part is sifting through all the bullshit to find the content you actually want to see or read.

You might be wondering, “So why don’t you just delete it all?” Well, that’s because there are also reasons why I love social media. It certainly has its benefits.

The Pros of Social Media:

1) It Can Be Powerful

Social media is FAST. When news breaks of a kidnapping victim or a missing person, people share content quickly. At times, this has led to the recovery of victims who might have otherwise been gone forever. Social media has been responsible for, or at least assisted with, the exposure of large-scale corruption and wrongdoing. Also, platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter are the source of many laughs and interesting articles. I enjoy following pages that brighten my day with illuminating, mentally stimulating content. Additionally, building your personal brand in a digital space can be great way to network professionally and find like-minded people who can help you make connections in your field. Oddly enough, the same things that make social media annoying also make it successful.

2) You Can Connect With People From Around The World

Social media’s intended purpose was to connect people. This, in my opinion, is still the main reason why I keep it around. I have friends and family all over the world, and just recently I reconnected with a relative I met when I was 10 years old while visiting family in Latvia. I hadn’t seen this particular girl in 16 years, and suddenly I found her on Facebook. It was incredible to think that I could so easily get in touch with someone I thought I might never see again. During my adult life, I have also made wonderful friends from other parts of the world, and it’s so easy to keep tabs on them through Facebook or WhatsApp. Without social media, I wouldn’t have the ability to do that.

3) You Can Share Cool Hobbies and Things You’re Proud Of

Many of us move away during our adult years, and we become busy with our own lives and careers. Since we don’t see our friends in person anymore, it’s only natural to want to share news of our accomplishments and milestones on social media. I don’t fault anyone for that. If you just started a cool project, you just had a baby, you got married, or you graduated from a difficult program, it’s completely understandable that you would want to spread the great news to your social circle. No one wants to hear constant boasting, but there is nothing wrong with sharing accomplishments and moments of great pride. I actually enjoy seeing my friends doing well and reaching goals. It brings me happiness to know that their lives are going in a positive direction. Sometimes, our careers even call for some social media engagement, and that's perfectly OK. 

So what’s the solution to finding balance in the midst of this love/hate relationship? Taking a break? Deactivating? Here are the steps I’m taking.

How to Find the Happy Medium:

1)      I start my morning WITHOUT scrolling. I’ve noticed that my days are much happier when I don’t start off with the ol’ timeline scroll. I have less anxiety and I feel more productive. Sometimes I sit down and write instead, or I just relax, breathe, and focus on my surroundings.

2)      I limit myself to a few minutes of social media catch-up time, and then I return to real life. The truth is, I don’t want to be up in everyone else’s business all the time, and I don’t feel the need for everyone to be up in mine. It’s nice to just get out and enjoy life while keeping my random thoughts where they most often belong—in my own head and off the newsfeed.

3)      I delete any app that I feel has more negatives than positives for me. I already got rid of Snapchat a long time ago, considering that I never watched or posted stories anyway, and I might delete another app soon.

4)      Most importantly, I’m embracing the idea of depicting my life in a genuine way and living in the moment more often. When I asked my sister about her views on social media, she explained that she no longer uses apps like Snapchat as much as she used to. I asked her why, and she said, “Honestly, I am so busy having fun now that I worry less about what other people are doing." And THAT is exactly what I’m striving for.

“I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.”
— Charles R. Swindoll