Our generation misuses social media

Jane Mather-Glass, Opinion Columnist

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Social media is a great platform to connect and share, but it can easily turn toxic when misused, especially in our generation.

The way we use social media is no longer just about sharing experiences and connecting with people; we use it as a source of validation, and it’s so easy to do because your validation is literally quantified. You can see how many people like whatever you’re doing, with whom you associate yourself, or how you look.

We put meaning on the number of likes and follows on our photos, statuses, and whatever else we post, making it way too easy for us to compare ourselves to others. I’m sure this isn’t always the case, but it can be especially prominent in girls. And honestly, girls don’t need more ways to compete with each other. Society forces us to do enough of that already.

Current social media platforms also make it easy for us to create online personas that can be disingenuous to what we’re like in real life. We often forget to separate people’s Internet personas from their actual identities, creating false assumptions about people.

We have to remember that people aren’t as two-dimensional as social media makes them out to be.

It’s a problem for us as posters and as audiences. We inexplicably care so much about what everyone else is doing. We spend hours of our life on Instagram and Facebook, liking and photos and watching Snapchat stories. Due to social media, people tend to focus more on publicly sharing their experiences, rather than actually valuing their experiences in the moment.

For example, say a group of friends go out one day. More often than not, your Instagram feed is flooded with pictures of a combination of the same people the very next day. It makes you wonder if these people were actually having a good time, or if they just wanted to make it look like they were. We’ve stopped living in the present, and have started to focus more on how others perceive our daily actions within society.

I also have a bone to pick with Finstas. It’s not just about talking behind people’s backs–it’s about how much of our lives we share on it. People’s use of Finsta varies, but in general, the way we share every detail of our lives with a select crowd is strange.

I want to admit that I’ve definitely done this. I realized, though, as I went through life posting everything, is, “Why do these people need to know what I’m doing or how I’m feeling right now?” We’ve gotten to a point of excessive sharing.

I don’t want to demonize social media, and I don’t want to demonize our entire generation. There’s no problem with taking a picture you think is cool and sharing it with your friends. Yet, when it becomes to sharing every detail of your life and gaining validation from your peers, it becomes destructive.

So, just take a weekend or something to have fun and be with your friends, but maybe don’t share that picture, even if you think it’s super flattering and makes it look like you’ve got cool stuff going on. Keep that picture as a memory for yourself rather than sending it to a group chat and asking what you should caption it.