Reflecting on social media and the human experience

Anna Malesiewski, Editor-in-Chief

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on reality.

Not that I view everything in my life through a harsh, realist lens. That’s not always necessary. However, I’ve been contemplating the real human experience, and the ways in which we as humans now alter or cloud the human experience.

Since reflecting on this, I’ve chosen to delete all my social media. It’s been about a month now, and this decision has manifested itself in my life in dramatic ways.

One of the primary things I’ve realized since doing this is that social media offers an alternate reality. And when I thought about this more, I realized just how scary that is.

We miss so many moments in our real lives because we are consumed with this alternate reality. Even when I walk around campus, the amount of people that I see with their heads down, staring at their phones are jarring. It seems very apocalyptic – like something out of a futuristic, dystopian movie.

There are so many opportunities for human connection on the seemingly simple walk to class. We can say “hello” to friends, smile at strangers, notice someone who looks lost and help them find their way, appreciate the greenery and natural beauty that exists in places on campus or feel the fresh air on our faces. When we’re engrossed in this separate world that exists on our phones, we miss the opportunity to do the things that are real and human.

We have a finite amount of time on this earth. I don’t want to look back at the end of my life and regret how much of my life was spent in a world that isn’t real.

And no matter how much we try, that world will never be real. It will always be curated. No matter how many “make Instagram real again” trends come and go, there will always be a lack of authenticity in social media. Our experiences on social media will always be dictated by what other people want us to see and experience. In real life, we can experience people and moments with them just as they are.

There’s something so beautiful about these organic moments. They’re beautiful because they’re imperfect. Humanity is messy, but in its messiness lies its charm.

As someone who grew up as the digital age was gaining its strength, I’ve never known a world without social media. I’ve never known a world where our everyday moments were the only reality. I have never known a world without the parallel universe that exists on social media always looming.

That’s so scary. So many of us didn’t grow up in reality. And as a result, so many of us have a jaded sense of the human experience. We rarely immerse ourselves in it. And if we don’t stop living this way, future generations will have absolutely no idea what reality even is.

We weren’t meant to live this way. We weren’t meant to access the thoughts, opinions and highlights of millions of people at any given time. Because we can do that, it makes us crave more instead of appreciating what we have. We’re so busy looking at people that we don’t even know that we fail to see who’s in front of us.

I don’t want my parents to age in real time while I’m too busy living through the portal that is a smartphone screen. I don’t want to miss experiencing my grandparents’ last days because I’m caught up in an artificial world. I don’t want my younger sisters to grow up without me even noticing.

I’m trying to stop living this way, and the peace it’s brought me is immeasurable.


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