I am sitting on the couch in my sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. It is Sunday night and I had planned to chill and take it easy. In one hand I am holding a cup of freshly cooked rooibos tea and in the other a book, which I am about to get into. Everything is calm and peaceful until- “ping”- my phone starts vibrating.
“Let me just reply to this quickly”
It’s a new WhatsApp message. “Just quickly reply to this one,” I tell myself “after that you can start reading your book”. I type a short reply and realize that there are actually 10 more unresponded messages in my WhatsApp inbox. “Oh no, I am such a bad friend, I better reply to them asap.” 5 minutes later I have responded to the old messages and whilst I have my phone in my hand, I might as well have a quick look at my Instagram feed. So many new stories! I spend some more time looking at Instagram stories, getting lost in the incredible adventures everyone seems to be getting up to. What am I even doing with my life? I am just sitting on the couch wasting my time. I am about to put my phone away and open up my book to start reading when my phone starts ringing- it’s Nina. I really don’t feel like talking to her right now, but I probably should pick up. After the call I remember that I need to check my emails- tomorrow is Monday and I want to be prepared for the upcoming week. I respond to 3 emails in my inbox, watch the latest Snapchat stories and then head over to the YouTube app to see what’s new on there. Damn, I nearly forgot: I still need to upload a new Instagram picture tonight. I scroll through my camera roll looking for a suitable pic. I yawn. What time is it even? I feel tired.
The sad end of the night
I look at the clock on the wall: it is 11 pm. Time to go to bed. The tea is now cold and my new book has been left untouched.
Hadn’t I planned to take some “me time” tonight just to read? Where had the hours gone? The thief of my time and attention is lying firmly in my hand: my phone. The screen lights up: 4 new Whatsapp messages, a missed call and two new emails.
Generation social media
We are always connected, available and up to date.
Kids as young as 4 years have their eyes glued to an iPad screen.
We check likes more often than we check in with our parents.
When we are with our friends we look at our phone for the more exciting stuff that is currently happening everywhere else.
A 10-hour flight without in-flight Wi-Fi feels like torture.
We need to share our holiday highlights on Instagram because somehow that makes us just as happy as the experience itself.
We no longer compare ourselves to the people around us. Unrealistic “Instagram goals” are the new standard.
We are always available. We are expected to reply to text messages within 24 hours, otherwise, there must be something wrong with us.
We are the generation social media.
Our paradox reality
We have endless opportunities to connect: Facebook, Tinder, WhatsApp etc. are just a click away. Yet at the same time, we are the most disconnected we have ever been.
We are social: we post, we chat and we comment. Yet, we are as anti-social as never before. We spend more time staring at screens than into people’s eyes.
We get lots of approval: likes, shares and right swipes. Yet, we feel lonelier and more isolated than we ever did. After all, everyone else on social media seems to be living a better life than we do.
We have more time than we used to: technology makes our lives extremely fast paced. Yet, we waste time scrolling, watching and browsing useless content on the internet.
We are living our best lives. Our Instagram feed is perfect, our Facebook profiles display happy holiday memories and our photos are as beautifully edited as never before. Yet, we struggle so hard trying to live up to our own expectations every day.
Why don’t you put that fucking phone down?
Social media is, without a doubt, an amazing tool to connect. It offers us opportunities we have never had before. However, it shouldn’t be the focus. It should simply be a channel through which we are able to extend on our real-life connections.
Caught up in a world of technology, let’s remember the following:
The purest and truest form of connection will always take place between two beings, without a screen separating them.
Your social media presence doesn’t define who you are as a person.
You don’t have to travel the world, go jet skiing or eat at fancy restaurants, like that person on Instagram, in order to be happy. Small things like reading a book or cuddling your dog might make you just as happy.
You can have a good time without sharing it on social media.
You will never be able to relive a night with friends. Just put that phone down and truly take it all in.
Spending time in nature is more rewarding than scrolling through your social media apps for the 5th time.
Not replying should be a sign of you having such a good time that you forget to check your phone. It shouldn’t upset people.
Whenever you have your eyes glued to the screen you miss the opportunity to take in what this beautiful world around you has to offer.
when you finish reading this post
Once you finish reading this post I am going to ask you to do one thing: Switch off your phone. Yes, switch it off, don’t just put it in flight mode. You have so many talents and interests, please don’t waste your minutes aimlessly jumping from one app to the other on your phone. Take a break. Become aware of what you are doing with your life.
Time is the most precious gift we have been given- how do you want to spend it?
I hope that one day when you look back you can recall adventures, laughter and soul-deep connection. I hope that one day you have more to show to the world than your Instagram feed.