Focus On Me

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By Mary Smith

Click. You just liked someone’s selfie. Click. Click. That subtweet will definitely get your point across. It’s a habit teens seem to have: burning bridges over the bright phone screens that illuminate our faces. Cyberbullying is one of the biggest challenges that our generation faces. Aside from the serious issue of electronic slander, social media is taking its toll on humans as individuals.

Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram: these are some of your best friends, and yet they are your worst enemies. Social media has its own effects on every age group, including physical changes in the brain. These networks can damage you without lifting one finger, all while you type out your next message. Even worse, the addiction that we have to cell phones seems to affect how often we partake in social media (see previous article by Jarely Rea, an informative piece on this plaguing obsession). Your apps seem to scream, “Focus on me!” like Ariana Grande.

I know you’ve heard this speech before; it’s everywhere you turn. You might see a new study every day that tells you why you should leave Facebook in the dust. However, have you heard it from a writer who is just as addicted as you are? I might even have more Pinterest pins than you’ve ever seen in your life. It wasn’t until I read about the effects of social media that I realized just how much it distracted me from living life.

According to an article from http://www.cnn.com, different areas of the brain light up when you get “likes” from your peers. I know I’m not the only one who gets a thrill when something I post gets a certain amount of likes. The article also states that social media affects social influence as well as how we learn about each other. Wouldn’t you rather learn the different smiles of the people around you rather than seeing an emoji? I know I would.

You shouldn’t attempt to give up social media cold-turkey, unless you decide that it would help you out. I’m not going to delete my accounts or deactivate my blogs. Rather, I am going to pay more attention to the life that is going on around me, including avoiding taking pictures every time I’m out with my friends or with my family. A funny Snapchat story now and then is totally cool for me, but I would rather spend time experiencing things without a screen involved.

It’s tough. Social media has provided several advantages: people everywhere have reconnected with old friends, found events to attend, and fueled their search for knowledge. While there are good sides to the technological advantages we have made, we can’t lose sight of reality. It’s going to be hard, but the holidays are a good time to cut back. I am excited for the potential good times that I will have without social media. Look out world! (Or maybe just look up from your cell phone.)

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