Social media has exploded in global adoption over the past decade, and it has really affected the way that people grow up and interact with each other. As someone who was becoming a teenager in the early 2000s, I got to experience social media from an early age and watch it evolve into what we have today.
My first tastes of social media were AOL Instant Messenger and Myspace. I have vivid memories of going home after school and immediately turning on the family computer just to go and talk to the people I just saw in school. These days everyone has it much easier than that. Almost anyone can just pull out their smartphone and in two finger taps be on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media site.
Everything we do these days can be done digitally, from texting your mom to updating your status for all of your friends to see what you're doing to paying your bills and doing all your shopping. Things these days are easier than ever, but they leave a big hole in something that every human needs. With all of our technology, we can go a whole day – or more – without real, face-to-face human contact. We've become so reliant on our phones and social media that sometimes we forget about the people in our lives that really matter.
You walk throughout your day with your phone glued to your face so involved with what everyone is doing online that you don't truly enjoy the real world in front of you. You see it every day, no matter where you go. Someone talking on the phone while they're checking out at the grocery store, completely ignoring their cashier. Someone so absorbed in their phone that they walk directly into someone or even cross a road without looking up. It can get even more dangerous than that. We've all seen someone at one point driving top speeds on the highway with their face buried in their phone.
Growing up around things like this can also be very detrimental to younger people. It can not only shape the way we interact with each other but also the way we see ourselves. Everyone online wants to be seen as perfect. They want to post the funniest statuses and the nicest looking selfies because that is how people evaluate them. People only see them as who they are online. They are only as good as their profile. And things like that can be very detrimental to one's self-esteem, especially from a young age.
Things like this can quickly make you believe that you are not good enough. They can break you. It also doesn't help that people aren't the nicest online. When they're behind a screen they feel they have the right to judge you and tear you down so that they feel superior to you. I feel that's the most dangerous part of social media. We've all grown to believe that it is normal and okay to pass judgment on others, even if we don't know them.
I feel that the next step we should all try to take is to put down our phones every once and a while. Try to make more genuine human contact with people, and not worry so much about how people see us online. I believe social media is a magical thing that can bring people together that would never have spoken without it, but we all need to take a step back and re-evaluate what social media should really be like.