By Corrie Coleman | Reporter
When I feel stressed, lonely or even just bored, I reach for my phone. But somehow, as I scroll through dog videos and vacation photos, I feel myself becoming even more discontent. It’s exhausting to try to keep up an online presence that is cool, funny, pretty, consistent and “genuine.”
When I forget my phone at home, I get severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I find myself being distracted while talking to friends or wondering how many likes my photo has gotten while I’m in class. In the online world of comparison and competition, I almost never measure up. In short, social media is exhausting.
I’ve learned that it’s OK, even healthy, to take a break from social media. When I feel myself becoming too dependent on Instagram or Pinterest to resolve or silence my inner conflicts, I often delete the apps from my phone or block the websites on my laptop. As I put some distance between myself and the internet, I feel more connected with my friends, my surroundings and my own emotions.
Don’t get me wrong: I believe social media serves an important role in our society. It gives us access to instant news and communication, allowing us to share experiences and opinions. It gives a voice to people groups who have historically been silenced, leading to greater awareness of injustice and the ability to organize social change. But, like anything in life, it can be dangerous in excess.
A Forbes article argues that excessive social media use can actually cause loneliness. The article quotes a study done by the University of Essex in 2009 that says, “Simply having a phone nearby caused pairs of strangers to rate their conversation as less meaningful, their conversation partners as less empathetic and their new relationship as less close than strangers with a notebook nearby instead.”
By breaking our dependence on our phones, we are able to build stronger, more meaningful relationships.
When we engage with the people around us instead of checking for likes, we can actively listen and love well. When we look up at our surroundings instead of down at a screen, we see and experience our life more fully. When we confront our negative emotions instead of numbing them with tweets and pins, we can take steps toward healing.