By Erica Watkins
Walking through the hallways alone, I look at my phone and scroll through a Twitter feed I checked ten minutes ago. I would rather look like I have something to do on my phone, than look a passing stranger in the eyes. Being alone has become uncomfortable. My hallway strategy to avoid a seemingly awkward situation is not an isolated incident. While social media has made the vast world exponentially more connected, our phones and apps have pushed people much further apart.
Social media nowadays is a necessity to stay in touch. A simple Facebook notification can remind me of a distant friend’s birthday, or an Instagram post from a cousin can keep me informed about their life. The problem with social media is that we have replaced meaningful conversations and quality time with Instagram posts, Facebook messages and texts. Using social media as our way to connect is becoming problematic, as it can never fill our need to be around people. Social media becomes a vicious cycle, because once we finally do have coffee with an old family friend, or grab lunch with a budding love interest, it is easy to feel like there is nothing to talk about. Two people probably know more about each other than they should because they have been stalking each other’s Facebook pages and see a picture of the other person everyday on Instagram. We no longer need to have an in-depth conversation with someone to learn what they did over the summer or what their opinions are on the world. Private details in our lives are broadcasted to thousands of people each day.
Always knowing what your peers are doing and accomplishing can push you to feel like you are missing out or not doing enough in life. Facebook can often feel like a forum to see who just posted pictures of themselves at their new startup or traveling the world with their best friends. Social media creates an environment in which if you are doing seemingly less than somebody else it magnifies the feeling of missing out and feeling inferior.
Personally, social media has amplified my craving to belong and be involved in social activities. Nights home alone have become nights on my phone trying to keep up with Snapchat stories of events I was not invited to. Even if I wanted to have a night in and watch a movie with my dogs, I end up feeling like I am doing something wrong with my life when I see Instagram posts of people going on an adventure or at a party.
In a world of constant updates it is vital to stay connected with your own emotions. Try to become comfortable with being alone and disconnecting. Even taking
15 minutes of no technology can be a valuable break from keeping up with everything all your friends are doing. You can alleviate your fear of missing out though, if you practice being confident in your decisions and hobbies. If you are not interested in the night life, do not feel bad when other people are going out. If you do not find interest in the outdoors, stop comparing yourself to people who are always hiking. It is easy to feel that you can always be doing something better when social media only shows us the perfect parts of peoples lives.