Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Yik yak. YouTube. Vine.
Like death and taxes, the transformation into being a user of some form of social media is inevitable. Almost like a biological reflex, we click open the app whenever the alarming red notification box is present. Facebook connects us with our relatives across the country and friends around the world. YouTube brings us free entertainment that could last for weeks with no pause and Instagram provides us with a constant stream of images for our visual stimulation needs. Messages between many people are exchanged at the speed of light over text and messengers. Everyone is connected and informed. Social media has given a new platform and marketing tool to content creators and businesses and has made the possibilities for connecting people and sharing content virtually limitless. The inspiration to be gathered from the creativity of others is powerful. The circulation of inspiration is an extremely positive force, made possible by the existence of so many platforms for publishing content. We can now seek inspiration in visual, audio and written forms all on the Internet, available at our fingertips at any moment in time.
But what social media giveth, it also taketh away. We piss away time that we could be using to push ourselves forward in order to consume the documentation of the lives of others through their pictures, video and status updates. Ignoring a text has become an impossible feat, and messages are checked on a constant basis. Face to face discussion is interrupted by a buzz and a break in eye contact to look at an illuminated screen. We are all guilty.
Words can be twisted and misinterpreted to hurt others. We gawk at the lives of people which seem to be so much more exciting than our own, living vicariously through photos and video. Our time is then not lived for ourselves but for others. We log in in the late hours of the night and while we are on the clock in order to find out who is out having fun while we are not. Fifteen minutes of surfing the web can lead to five hours of continual distraction, cutting into our time to interact with others in the real world or shaving off precious minutes of our sleep time.
We validate the excitement of our own lives not by actually living them, but by gauging the reactions of others to our lives on how many likes and comments and followers we can gather. Inspiration is only as good as the creation that it sparks. Watching endless videos of extreme sports or gazing longingly at travel photographs is no substitute for making and executing plans to be there in real-time. While social media is here to stay and no amount of determination can get the average person off of it for good, there is something to be said for limiting time and sticking to it, deleting apps to delete the visual of notifications and resisting the urge to check for messages when in the company of others.
It’s time to log off the internet and log back into real life. In 2015 I don’t want to spend my time consuming the content of the lives of others, I want to spend that time creating content for my own, and I encourage others to do the same.