It has come to my attention that due to the increase in social media and the dependency on technology, in order to encourage society to fully live their lives, there has been a trend in the idea that we as a community of people absorbed by the internet have become selfish and self-absorbed. I agree with the message Hello? Put down your iPhone and look up! is trying to get across: we are completely and utterly involved with our phones and social media. That "social media" is affecting the way in which we communicate or don't, with the world around us. I agree it is harmful and if something isn't done now, socializing in person will cease to exist. I also agree that social media affects a persons sense of self-worth and value.
The only parts of our lives that we post are the happy times: the times we spent with friends, the times we went on vacation, the times in our lives that seem worthy of documentation. But what if you can't afford to do those things? What if your social skills aren't what is considered "normal"? This is when technology turns on us. This is when it starts to feel like a competition. Who has the most likes on their most recent selfie? Who has the best group of friends, who doesn't? Who just landed their dream job? Who didn't? Who recently got engaged? Yes, social media is a wonderful outlet to celebrate our lives and share it with those we can't spend everyday with. And yes, it is harmful because it creates thoughts in the minds of young people like: How are they so perfect? Why isn't my life like that? When in reality it's all about the camera angle and the lighting and the click of the camera at just the right time. It's all manufactured. The looks of joy at the time the picture or video was taken is probably genuine, but that's not how people look on a day to day basis. We all have struggles, fears, doubts and insecurities. Some hide it better than others. Social media is a mask we all wear to show our happiest, or seemingly happiest, moments of our lives. I don't dissuade this argument, because I see it for myself. Every single day. I too, am a social media junkie. I am no exception to this rule.
I do, however want to point out that I don't agree that "selfish" or "self-absorbed" are the correct terms to utilize to describe the state of our society. I agree that social media has contributed significantly to the increase in young people's self-esteem and confidence. I too, have experienced this. I know first hand the affect social media can have. The negative connotation the video puts on "self-interest," "self-image," and "self-promotion" is something that made me rethink the way in which I spend my time browsing the web. Yes, in a way those are negative aspects. It seems that our young people are thinking more about how many likes or favorites they can get on something they post online. Posting on Instagram to show proof that you went out for froyo with a friend or tweeting an inside joke: it's all a show for the people who follow our individual social networks. It's as if we feel the need to showcase our lives to make a point that we have ones. That we're not always sitting at home binge watching our new favorite shows on Netflix. I am not in any way diminishing that argument, because it's true. Unfortunately that is the effects of social media. Whose lives are better than whose?
With that being said, I also want to point out something just as significant. Something that I've experienced as a young person who spends an enormous amount of her time on the internet. Connections. I have just finished my undergrad degree. with a Bachelors in English. My first two years of college all I knew was that when I transferred I would be changing my major to English. I always knew I was going to be an English major. It was the subject I excelled in my entire academic career. It was all that interested me as a lover of books and stories and the power of the written word. In the fall of my junior year I still didn't have a specific career path. I never thought much about it because I had zero indication at what it was I wanted. When I started college I had become more involved in the world of Twitter. My freshman year was a difficult one and Twitter and eventually Tumblr is what I turned too (besides books of course).
Due to my increase in my use of Twitter, it was during that fall semester that I discovered Dream On Youth, also known as DOY. I've struggle with confidence, self-esteem and self-doubt for as long as I can remember. Dream On Youth is a community that promotes self-love and encourages anyone and everyone with a dream. I was immediately struck by the warm welcome and instant sense of acceptance and encouragement. The leader of this movement, Cydney Irby, has become like an older sister and mentor to me. She's played a big role on my journey to discovering who I am and to believing in my goals and ambitions. Without my presence on Twitter, as active as it is, I would never have come across this inspirational individual or the beautiful organization that she has created. Cydney opened my world up to numerous opportunities, including the chance to intern for an online magazine.
While I do not hesitate to agree the negative affects social media has on the younger generations, I wouldn't say we've become increasingly "selfish." For me seeing likes or favorites or retweets on things I've posted actually influences the way I feel about myself in a positive way. I don't depend on it for my happiness and sense of worth and I think as the generations to come mature and grow they'll learn they don't need to either. I've participated in empowering chats on Twitter that have expanded my knowledge and that has made me feel closer to my dreams than any classroom ever has. Telling society to put away their phones is a start, but the approach needs to be presented in a better light. Don't present your message by calling your viewers and listeners selfish. If you google "we live in a selfish society" a dozen of results appear with similar ideas to this promotional video. In this way you are contributing to the negative light often shed on social media. Social media has given me access to people and connections I wouldn't otherwise have.
In my minds eye, I see it that we are all challenged by the idea of being comfortable in our own skin. We are all insecure, we are all lacking the confidence to always feel comfortable being ourselves. Posting "selfies" or sharing good news via social networks because you're feeling good about yourself should be encouraged, not looked down on. We all need support and encouragement and love. If your road to happiness means using social media to promote yourself than what's stopping you? My challenge for you is to like or retweet or comment on people's posts. It takes courage to share yourself with the world and the click of a button can change someone's entire day.
Never forget the essence of your spark!