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Opinions

A Life Without Social Media

168 hours. That’s how long it would take to send a letter across the country by horse. That same message, however, now can be posted to a wall or uploaded in a tweet and shared with thousands of people in a few mere seconds.

From Instagram to Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+—going all the way to when Myspace was the latest craze—social media has changed the way society communicates and how we interact with each other.

Social media has stolen our time by providing limitless distractions, decreased humanity’s capabilities at physical interaction and introduced new threats such as online sexual predators and cyberbullying. Nonetheless, a life without social media is a life most people wouldn’t even recognize.

At home, work and school, we are constantly surrounded by technology. Mac or PC, iPhone or Galaxy s7; no matter the brand of personal preference, the ability to share is at the tips of our fingers. Our way of life has been forever changed by the internet’s boundless grasp.

We’ve become dependent on it for entertainment and communication with friends, family and the world at large. Literature has been replaced by memes and emojis. Greeting cards from grandparents have been reduced to a simple Facebook comment. Socializing with classmates has become interchangeable with Snapchat.

Do we as human beings even know how to talk to each other? To have a conversation? On the rare occurrence you see someone in person, do you automatically chose to take out your phone and have the conversation virtually instead of with the person sitting beside you? The reality of isolation runs more and more rampant as the number of supposed friends increases; social media is making us antisocial.

The simplification of our language in texting and tweeting diminishes the way we express ourselves; the way we talk is unique to each and every one of us, but “lol”, “ttyl” and “omg” replaced our complex vocabularies.

Social media isn’t an obligatory forum of communication—it is a form of entertainment. We’re addicted to it and our productivity levels suffer. Five minutes on Reddit turn into an hour of distractions until whatever is left of our self control saves us from staring into the artificial eyes of our phone screen till the end of days. Our ability to focus and concentrate is jeopardized by the bombardment of material we’re exposed to on a daily basis.

The illusion that social media can proliferate awareness and promote social reform by clicking a button and liking a page is simply a form of expression; we aren’t deeply moved by the topic; we feel a momentary emotion that’s soon forgotten. The thousands of supporters and followers amount to the bare minimum of substance. Is actual change being made by the petition that compelled its signers for a brief moment of time before the next sneezing panda captured the world’s attention? Instead of focusing on an issue as a society—or even as an individual—we instead fleetingly drift from hilarious cat videos on YouTube to conflict ridden Tweets an arbitrary celebrity made.

Terrible events happen everyday, but social media has made us desensitized to conflict and violence. A headline occupies our minds and gains our sympathy for a week at most, but it slowly fades as the next viral story embarks on this never-ending cycle of superficial change.

Through our profiles, we present a portfolio of our best selves—a collection of things we want our friends to see, not our truthful personalities. Imagine actually knowing your friends’ flaws or realizing that no, your colleagues don’t live perfect lives. Instead of being jealous of the number of likes your sister got due to the filter-clad photo she posted, you can actually enjoy each other’s company.

All in all, social media isn’t as harmless as we believe it to be. From our younger siblings in elementary school to our elderly grandmothers in nursing homes, social media affects each one of our lives, but is it for the better? The social isolationism and frivolous culture it has created within the glamour of entertainment and communication is often overlooked, but we as a society need to acknowledge that the apparent benefits aren’t completely beneficial and try to remember life without social media.

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Westerner: The Maine West student voice for more than 50 years