Is Social Media Drawing Us Together, Or Further Apart?

photograph by skitterphoto via – CC0 license

I am a 16 year old high school student and along with virtually all of my peers, I cannot put my phone down. I walk through the halls in between classes everyday whilst refreshing my Instagram, double-tapping on random photos I don’t even bother to look at, and mindlessly snapchatting my friends back with pictures of a blurry hallway. Every spare second I get during extremely busy days, I can be found checking my phone.
My generation is, without a doubt, addicted to social media. The iPhone has become a safety blanket, and no one can go anywhere without the familiar feeling of the device in their pocket. When we are forced to separate, we feel astray, as if there is nothing else in the world to fulfill the hole technology eats up in our lives.
Communication has gotten so fast that with the tap of a button, you can contact any person in the world. I find that along with my peers, I am better at communicating through a screen than in real life. There are no awkward pauses, facial expressions, or issues with eye contact — all things that people despise. There is no failure required in order to succeed at communicating through a screen. Texting, Snapchatting, and DM-ing on Instagram allows you to filter out imperfections, polish up your character, and remain perfect at all times.
Experimenting with real-life communication skills and knowing how to deal with the imperfections we all have is what “kids are missing out on” these days, according to Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist and author of The Big Disconnect. The majority of us spend “three hours or more per day” looking at our devices. This time could be used to communicate face to face, allowing us to develop the communication skills that have been seemingly lost.
Long gone are the days where every Friday night kids hang out at the local diner and gossip, and when boys walk up to the front door to meet your parents on the first date with flowers in hand. Whether we like it or not, social media is changing our relationships with the people around us. While it is seemingly bringing us closer, it is also drawing us apart. I can attest to the fact that I spend many nights per week sitting on my bed, locked in my room, talking to people through a screen rather than in person.
There is no easy way to just change our newfound habits, as social media is an addiction. It does not need to be abolished, but instead of sitting in your room alone next Friday night, make an effort to unlock that bedroom door, go out with friends, and to stay off of your phone. In the long run, you won’t regret it.