Living Through a Camera Lens? Put it Down

selfiesWe take a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo with a few friends. Our iPhones are secured in our hands, at the ready. We take a Snapchat of the monkeys, the hippos, the sea otters, and the penguins. We rotate our phones between ourselves to ensure everyone has a selfie with the giraffes. We stroll through the Zoo, squinting at our screens to find the best Instagram filter for our photos. 

We get food, sit at a table, and silently scroll through our social media feeds. We peer at the exotic birds for a minute before checking to see if our Instagram pictures hit 11 likes yet. Once we arrive home, we upload all 312 pictures we took that day onto a Facebook album.

Thanks to the surge of technology and social media we have today, young adults struggle to find balance between living life in the moment and recording everything on our iPhones. Someone posted a 300 second Snapchat story the other day of a concert they attended. That’s a lot of seconds to be fiddling with a phone when you could have been soaking up the music and the entire concert experience unfolding around you. We are so busy trying to get the perfect photo to get maximum Instagram likes, that we ignore everything around us.

Students are frequently saying that they would like a disconnect from social media and technology, but a severe of those ties is unforeseeable. Social media will only continue to grow and become more of an influence on our daily lives. Stephanie Merlis, a sophomore business marketing student, admits that social media has a strong pull on her daily life. Merlis explains, “This generation, myself included, is often too obsessed with rushing to take a picture, or a tweet, or Snapchat so they can upload it and show the rest of the world, rather than actually taking the time to sit back and enjoy what’s happening right around you.” 

Erin Lupo, a freshman psychology student, agrees. “It’s a huge distraction,” she admits.

Technology is not going to disappear and enable us to travel back in time to days of going to the beach just to tan and swim with friends, rather than getting the perfect mid-jump selfie in front of the crashing waves. What we have to do is find time to put down our phones and soak up what’s happening around us. As college students, we are in the prime years of our lives, full of newfound independence and opportunities banging down our doors. While it will be great to have countless photos and tweets to look back on to remember these times, what counts the most are the memories we have of living in the moment. 

A problem social media presents is making young adults experience a feeling of missing out or a need to show the world what they’re up to. Mary Harris, a specialist communication professor, explained, “Active participants of social media might feel influenced to engage with others in a way that creates the best representation of their reality.”

Social media, like anything, has both positives and negatives. Harris points out that social media can cause a “need for online validation and attention from peers” or “internet and phone addiction.” While this does occur, one shouldn’t forget the benefits of social media, which Harris determines are “Social networking sites can build community, help users learn about local and global news, and spread awareness about art and educational resources, including helping students of all ages to promote their work and talents.” iPhones and the apps we download on them are a part of life now, so we need to find a balance between the benefits and the drawbacks.

Technology has done so much for us as college students. We don’t need to bother to search through dusty leather-bound books in the library to figure something out due to Google and trusty Yahoo! Answers being right at our fingertips. We can find our old friends from summer camp on Facebook and rebuild those connections. We can post our opinions online while continuing to learn about the world through other’s opinions as well. We can get recipes for buffalo chicken dip on Pinterest and find unique artwork and accessories for sale on Etsy. 

It’s easy to spend our days staring at the small screen instead of peering at the world outside of the App Store. As Harris pointed out, what we need to strive for is a balance. Harris recommends compartmentalizing time spent online, and “being more mindful and conscious of our own needs and the gratifications we seek” in order to figure out why we are sharing what we are online, and why. 

Before we upload the 100 beach pictures, tweet our location, post a beach pic on Instagram, and create a 250 second Snapchat story, we should ask ourselves: why are we posting this? 

IMAGE TAKEN from rubben.be