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How Social Media Has Affected The Way We Live

Life with smartphones and social media is not a bad thing, but when do we draw the line between acceptable and excessive use?

Imagine this: You walk in a bar, and all you see is a mass of people taking photos of their drinks or their beers and posting it on Facebook or Instagram. You barely hear them talking to each other; all they do is press buttons on their smartphones. Or you dine out with a friend and when your food comes, your friend takes tons of photos of the meal, edits the photos, and posts it on various social media platforms – all before actually eating.

And the rationale behind this? It’s quite obvious, really – it’s a requirement to post photos online as proof of the wonderful experience you just had.

Have you ever been in these situations? I bet, to some extent, you have.

Thanks to social media, this has become a common scene these days:

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Our generation is heavily engrossed with social media in such a way that people walking down the streets or riding the subway with their eyes glued to their smartphones is a fairly common sight. Life with smartphones and social media is not a bad thing, but when do we draw the line between acceptable and excessive use?

Sadly, many people trade precious personal conversations in exchange for online interaction.

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Photo credit: MIS 750 Journey

Oftentimes, people take to social media platforms to share their life experiences or reconnect with family members. Browsing through your Facebook news feed, I bet it’s common to see photos of couples having romantic getaways somewhere in the Bahamas or a post about something as mundane as having lunch in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant over by the next block. These are wonderful to see every once in a while, yes, but the danger is that we get addicted to social media and stylize our lives in such a way that we want it to always look perfect to other people, weeding out the bad moments from the good ones. As a result, excessive social media use reduces our lives to just that – a timeline of heavily scripted photos, verbose descriptions of daily life, and videos of perfect moments. Heck, some people even go out of their way just to have something to post on their accounts.

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Photo credit: The Guardian

Unfortunately, brag culture and our obsession with making our lives seem perfect has made us view life as some sort of superficial contest – our lives are suddenly ruled by the number of our online friends, the likes our posts get, or by how many times we get retweeted. Some single people even resent seeing romantic couples on their newsfeeds because it serves as a constant reminder that they haven’t found someone yet while everyone on Facebook are having the perfect relationships.

Appearances, sadly, has also become the norm. The photos of your unbelievably attractive date trumps the importance of his or her character. On the other hand, the success of any relationship is measured by the quantity of posted photos with your significant other and how romantic your descriptions are. If you don’t post photos or check-ins of your dates, you fear that the world will view you as miserable or “not romantic enough”. Likewise, it is imperative to share with your online friends that you’re lounging in a beach chair somewhere exotic, while they slave away in front of their computers at work.

You’re on vacation, and you need to let your online friends know ASAP!

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Photo credit: Lim / Flicker

Being too absorbed with painting such a perfect virtual life, we forget the beauty of living in the real world.

And it is then that we have to tread carefully. We shouldn’t be fooled by social media into believing that our presence in the virtual world determines our actual worth. It does not. Don’t limit your life to what you post online; make your life outside of social media count. There are fairly many people out there who do not have lots of friends online, but actually have a lot in the real world. Some do not even have existing social media accounts but have greatly impacted the lives of many others. Likewise, there are couples who rarely upload romantic photos and post sweet nothings to profess their undying love for each other, but are actually happier than the ones you see in your news feed.

So, how about you? When will you stop clicking and start living?

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