Social media is ruining real relationships
People were once concerned with Y2K when it came to the evolving world of technology, but nowadays it seems like society’s worries are more focused around what Instagram filter to use and how many retweets you can get. Controversy erupted recently with the recent update to Snapchat, a wildly popular app. Being able to keep in touch with people by sending cute or absurd pictures to one another has become a 21st century staple of communication. Your Snapchat ‘best friends’ helped to indicate the people you actually kept in touch with, or who you just felt like sending pictures back and forth to. The update got rid of this feature and has, thus, started an unintentional revolution among young adults using the app. But what does this (along with the many other social media trends) really say about our generation?
The new feature on Snapchat that replaced the ability to view other’s ‘best friends’ is a “discover” section that shares breaking news and entertainment stories. This caused a media uproar. Removing this somewhat invasive element of the app became the worst nightmare of every paranoid significant other. Ignorance really isn’t bliss. This generation has been molded by technology –– so much so that something as insignificant as who your Snapchat best friends are is cause for a suspicion of infidelity. Social media has made it so easy to tap into other’s lives via things like Facebook “stalking” or Instagram likes, that when certain capabilities are taken away, people feel like they don’t know exactly what’s going on in their friend’s lives anymore, or even complete strangers' lives, for that matter. Relationships have lost trust and gained suspicion just from the effects of a menial smartphone application. In an effort to connect to the wifi, we have lost real human connections and continue to neglect reality.
We have all been guilty of staring aimlessly at our phones or computers, constantly refreshing every form of social media until something new has been uploaded to occupy our thoughts. But this comes at a cost. While everyone is transfixed to a screen, authentic communication slowly drifts into the unknown. People have learned to express their feelings using emojis or even “subtweeting”, rather than speaking face to face. Every text message comes with swallowed words or a hidden facial expression that is evaded just as much as genuine human contact is. Talking on the phone is a scary feat nowadays because texting has become so conventional. Most families do not even feel it necessary to own a house phone anymore. People could have thousands of followers or friends on these social mediums, when, in reality, everything posted and uploaded could be a front. This generation has shaped their self-image based off of what they think people would like, literally. Many have been able to create entire lives and careers from forging their image. No real relationships can be formed when one party is pretending to be someone they’re not. It is no wonder so many people are being “catfished” these days.
Being able to interact with others 24/7, 365 days a year has made life 1,000 percent easier, and it is without a doubt an exceedingly positive shift for the world of technology. Whether through text conversation, or even connecting with relatives halfway around the world, social media and technology have changed our lives for the better. However, it also comes with its share of threats. Electronic communication is superficial, and will continue to be the less face-to face communication occurs. It is time for people stop hiding behind a screen.
Epatia Lilikas is a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in English and economics. Her column "Digital Canvas," runs on alternate Fridays.