I won’t deny that I’m reliant on social media (SM). I scroll through my feed moments before I fall asleep, when I awake, on the commute and whenever I have spare pockets of time. Lately, I decided that my SM usage has been borderline unhealthy. Don’t get me wrong, I think SM is great. I’ve met many amazing individuals through Instagram. We’ve taken our friendship out of this digital space and into the “real world” by meeting up for meals, cookouts, and collaborations. It helps that we have many common interests and thus are able to connect on many levels.
With that said, I think that SM has made me forget to live in the moment. I remember spending a month in Paris without a data card. There was low WIFI connectivity almost everywhere in the city. I was basically disconnected until I return to my accommodation at the end of the day. Honestly, at the beginning, I spent some time getting accustomed to it. I was so obsessed that even without data connectivity, my thumbs would instinctively search for the Instagram application on my phone. I didn’t even realize I was so dependent on SM until I had it taken away from me. But as time went by, I grew used to it and actually enjoyed the liberated feeling. I told myself I would use this opportunity to go on a ‘digital detox’.
It was a great decision. Instead of thinking of what would look picture-perfect in those squares, I was able to live in the present. By spending less time on SM, I was better able to appreciate my travels as what it truly was, not what it would look like with filters. During meals, I was able to put my phone face down and instead focus on my dining companion and have meaningful conversations.
Do you remember the times before Instagram and Facebook started? We used to spend more time having real conversations and meeting up with people. Nowadays, ‘communication’ means commenting on or liking one’s picture. Our conversations are reduced to one-liners or 140-character tweets.
While I love social media, baking, food and beauty, I would say that Instagram only depicts a fraction of my life. There is much of me that is not captured online. I’m a busy undergraduate, I appreciate music, arts, culture and enjoy my me-time. This begs the question, is Instagram really representative of our lives? A perfectly placed coffee, dried flowers, photogenic food on pretty plates, is this real life?
Instagram is not reality — most of us tend to overlook this fact. After all, who would want to see pictures of last night’s leftovers or us slogging away at work? We post what we think people want to see. And these days, garnering ‘likes’ is a way of gaining validation.
I’m not discouraging the use of SM. It’s a wonderful platform to communicate ideas, capture beautiful moments and be inspired. I sincerely believe that we could all benefit from being a more thoughtful user of social media. Don’t let it consume you. Invest in real relationships and ask your friend out. And importantly, be true to yourself.