Making it count: How social media is taking over our precious time


Daphne Knox

Within our own community at Ballard, social media has been a tool to amplify hate speech and has been used to further isolate one another.

Sadie Clark, News Editor

I know I’m not the first to start making “chronically online” jokes about the ways in which my scrolling habit makes me feel like my brain cells are leaking out of my ears. And I know I’m not the first to feel that sudden urge to delete Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, or better yet hurl my phone at a wall and never speak to anyone again.
The most obvious impacts of social media are not as serious as the adults like to say. The most frustrating narrative to hear from an adult is that phones are killing work ethic in kids. Maybe I’m occasionally lazy due to my phone addiction, but does that really implicate me for anything remotely criminal?
It’s not that I don’t recognize the distraction. It makes me feel bad enough that I can’t stop scrolling through cooking vlogs, dogs that talk, stand-up comedy snippets, stupidly hot influencers, clothing hauls, “top 10 ways to make your side hustle your main hustle,” and on, and on, and on, and on. I don’t need anyone else telling me I’m not trying hard enough.
But laziness, while the easy scapegoat, hides the true impact of internet addiction; desensitization to social interaction and an uptake in anxiety.
It’s fascinating to me that social media has a reputation of being one of the great tools of socialization in the modern age. In theory, surrounding myself with as many people as possible shouldn’t make me feel lonely and isolated, right?
My fear is that the revolutionary social technology contained within our pocket may actually promote antisocial behavior. This fear is only confirmed by watching myself and my peers absorb ourselves in a world wholly separate from the one we’re actually living in.
In a study done by Zubair Ahmed Ratan et. all, problematic smartphone use is positively correlated to anxiety. Social anxiety, specifically, is also associated with screen addiction.
As I watch people walk through the halls with their heads down, consuming their own separate universes of media, I worry about the world we’re inheriting.
In the past month, public figures have broadcasted antisemitism and hate speech. AI has threatened the integrity of academics. The world’s population has continued to expand, and our access to the black hole of the internet has expanded with it.
Within our own community at Ballard,
social media has been a tool to amplify hate speech and has been used to further isolate
one another. The very thing designed to
bring us together has pulled us apart.
And I’m not saying I’m exempt– I’ve been trapped in this weird cycle of adoring then hating social media for ages. There are some days when I can’t put my phone down for hours on end, and there are other days when I can’t fathom picking it up.
The problem lies in that there’s no outcome for this generation involving getting rid of the internet; it’s a permanent resident in each of our lives for the rest of time, and that’s scary.
There will never again be a world in which no one sees an insensitive comment or a childish political debate online. There will never again be a world where you can open your phone to check your texts and only check your texts without seeing the onslaught of notifications that come with it. The internet is just another mess that we will be forced to inherit.
I also don’t mean to imply that social media and smartphones are intrinsically bad. Only that, as a generation, we have no precedent to solve the problems of internet addiction nor any idea what the long term effects will be.
There’s a certain
suffering associated with being able to experience everything all at once. That much power to hold everything in your hand takes the humanity out of our human experience. Life is about love and community and experience, and the world we’re being
spoon-fed doesn’t give us enough reminders of that.
So, I ask you to be conscious of your interactions, both digital and in-person. Be present in your communities, your school, your friendships. Focus on the depth and quality of your relationships. Practice empathy and connection. Write your friends a letter, make a book club, go to a concert, camp. While you still have the chance, get out and choose to live.