Post, Refresh, Like, Repeat: Society Needs to Disconnect


Photo/ Maggie Conley

Ellie Kalemkeridis

Teens today spend more than 7 hours a day on their cell phones. (Photo/ Maggie Conley)
Teens today spend more than 7 hours a day on their cell phones (Photo/ Maggie Conley).

In today’s generation, the majority of us rely on our phone as if it is our lifeline. A world without Instagram, Facebook, and any other form of social media feels incomplete. If someone snatched their phones from their hands, teens might not know the answer to these earth-shattering questions: How am I going to check Justin Bieber’s twitter feed? or How will I Instagram a picture on Throw Back Thursday? Oh, and I’m not just talking about teens–plenty of adults can admit they have some sort of undying emotional attachment to their phones (Yes, that’s you, fifty year old Farmville addicts popping up on my feed).

As our culture and societal standards change more and more every day, teens and adults find themselves envying the lives of random people on social media who don’t even know they exist.

There are several females on Instagram who are considered Instafamous–a title typically delegated to a someone with a perfect body, face, and life (and lets not forget 500k followers as a result). Teens don’t obsess only over these icons of perfection, but they aim to shape themselves and their own lives into a mirror image of the latter. Despite these perceptions, these so called Instafamous females are no more than ordinary teens just like us–they too are molding their lives into the perfect image for someone to see, to yearn to have.

Specifically, girls in both middle and high school treat Instagram as if its a contest: unspoken popularity points are given to those with more followers, more likes in a certain time period, and more creative captions and edits. I have even heard of girls (sadly, one of whom is my cousin) going as far as liking their own pictures off of separate accounts that they previously made themselves–all just to bolster the superficial popularity they attempt to create on their profile.

What if they don’t reach whats considered a satisfactory amount of likes? Of course, there is a simple solution to prevent any tarnish on the image of perfection they have worked so hard to uphold: the delete button. Deleting a picture because of insufficient likes even days after its posted may be viewed as a sense of relief, for what if a peer stumbled upon and set you aside in their mind as a try-hard wannabe?

But why do we view our phones as the holy-grail to our happiness? While we sit on the phone scrolling through junk on Twitter or Instagram, we are not only losing precious hours of our day, but more importantly we are losing those intangible aspects of social interaction, the interaction that shapes our character and moreover our identity. Who really are we if we spend so much time wishing we look like, or have the life of so and so on Instagram or Facebook? We can wish we were these people as much as we want, but merely wishing will never change our perception of ourselves, and the significance of our individuality in such a conformative society.

With all the things visibly wrong with our society’s abuse of social media, we can still manage to find a possible upside. Instagram and other forms of social media surely can provide an outlet for freedom of expression, and the freedom to share ones unconventional opinions. Without the societal pressures from the outside world that inhibit people from expressing themselves, people feel as though they can open up to the entire online community in which someone may just share their same interests.

But here’s a question for us to consider: is it possible that the way we portray ourselves on social media is the way we really are? Are we more open to expressing our true self when we know we wont be judged face to face by those who set the societal bylaws on whats acceptable and unacceptable? Think about how you act or think when you are alone. Would you act the same way or share those personal thoughts even if put in front of a room full of your peers? Its open to your interpretation. Are you the person you are when no ones watching?

I propose you see what a day without your phone can do. Take a walk outside, visit an old friend, maybe even read a book (GASP). Who knows? You may just realize your own life may be just as special as Sally-what’s-her-names with 500,000 followers appears to be.