I hate social media. There. I said it.
Coming from a music journalism student who uses Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and spends hours and hours looking at nihilism memes on Facebook, this may sound a bit absurd. No doubt that I am a hypocrite and.. an addict. Not one substance or an unhealthy habit can beat social media if we are talking about my addictions. At least I am aware of it. So many people do not see the six hours they spend on Facebook as a warning sign because it is the new norm. We look at pretty pictures and forget about books, we chat and forget about the outside world, solitude, forget to think. Yet all everyone does is praise Social Media for making our lives easier. Although the good side is still true, there are a lot of downsides that the worshipers fail to mention.
First of all, time. I bet if someone kept track of the time one spends online and then told them the annual number, that person would be in horror. How many hours of your life do you think you have lost? Hours that could have been spent practising an instrument, a skill, engaging in a new hobby, or with friends, family? I am on the tube almost every day, surrounded by sadness – people frantically staring at their little screens, blissfully ignorant. That does not even stop there. They take them out at the dinner tables or parties while talking to the loved ones, in classrooms. It is incredibly devastating how much time can one waste.
Second of all, the decrease in our participation in our own lives. Is one really present at the gig if one watches half of it through a tablet’s screen, desperately trying to film the concert, even seven minute long songs, to show off to one’s mates? How present are we at moments when we take those pictures of nature, art or bands? Is it still a special moment that will live long in our memories; does it inspire and makes us think?
Third of all, the example our society is showing to kids, growing up in media-crazed society, is terrible and simply wrong. I did not have a phone till I was thirteen years old. I read a lot of books that helped me develop my writing and learn English, played with the kids from the block, had board game nights with my mom, explored the forest, drew and painted, crafted, spent hours swimming, biking, and, most importantly – thinking. Now five-year-olds are encouraged to play with smartphones and tablets and watch Youtube videos. How many of these children will decide to stick with the technology instead of picking up a book? Is that the new dream – to turn your kid into a mindless shell of a human being?
Finally, the information overload we get. Surely many have felt how draining and tiring the Internet can be, after flicking through countless websites, articles, videos. The Facebook ‘wall’ itself spits out more information than necessary. My procrastination skills have been honed to the perfection by staring at it, stalking my friends and reading Buzzfeed articles that pop up. I might as well say: “Hello, my name is Guna, and a Facebook addict.”, and try to start the recovery process, but let’s be realistic – FOMO (‘fear of missing out’) will restrict me from quitting. In truth, if did, it would cause a lot of avoidable complications. Nowadays, work in the music industry does require using social media. Even though that is understandable, I can’t not make a face when someone says they can not spend an evening without their phone. My phone brings me more headaches and misunderstandings than happy times. Furthermore, the Internet has had a huge impact on my attention span, leaving me unable to concentrate on one thing for more than half an hour. Jumping from one tab to another, skim-reading features, chatting and listening to music at the same time do more damage than one can imagine.
In conclusion, although we all benefit from social media, it is worth to take a second look and reconsider how much we dedicate ourselves to it. There is a life outside the screens. Social media can cause anxiety or often make it worse, and despite being so connected on the Internet, we all more distant from each other than ever. This is as subjective as it gets and you may disagree, but, honestly – how does one live without fear when all one sees is warning signs? It is hard to fight the feeling that ninety percent of the people are asleep, blind, deaf, happily living in their bubble, and that the social media is one of their favourite lullabies.