How social media is affecting our daily lives
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 23:10
Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re working on completing an important assignment that’s due the next day, and then you think, “I wonder what’s happening on Twitter right now?”
Three hours later, you’ve scrolled through hundreds of tweets, and your assignment is left terrible and unfinished.
It’s safe to say that social media is a big part of my life. In fact, I would go so far as saying that it has taken over my life. I’ve got nothing to do, so I’ll see what people are doing on Facebook. When I’m bored, I tweet about it. Chances are all of you do, too. But just how much are we tweeting?
NBC News published an article in 2012 that said the United States spent 121 billion minutes on social media in July 2012 alone. That’s 230,060 years right there. According to NBC, that’s 6.5 hours per person if everyone in the U.S. used social media.
I believe that in this way social media poses as more than a simple distraction. As fun as commenting on your grandmother’s cat photos can be, there is no real value to the string of 10- to 15-second comments or updates are generally meaningless. Unless you are getting involved in a meaningful substantive dialogue (as opposed to pokes and likes), the time spent on a social network doesn’t add to your life. Social media is supposed to bring people together online to share information. In practice, it does neither of these things in a meaningful way.
What is nefarious and subtle is what use of social networks takes away. Time that could be spent working on far more important things is wasted on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr.
Think of what you could do with an extra 6.5 hours of studying, time with family, and time with friends in person. Think of the sleep and the money you could make working.
Sadly, cutting down on “Internet time,” as it has been frequently dubbed, is easier said than done. Social networking has gotten so big because of the ease with which it facilitates communication, allows people to connect with others who have similar interests, and provides businesses with opportunities to reach out to consumers. People can miss real life important events because they didn’t see the Facebook invitation.
My intent is not to criticize, but to enlighten. Social media has been key in helping me keep in touch with friends and family, and it is a wonderful tool for communication as well. The issue at hand is the excessive amounts of time being spent on social media and how it has unwittingly become a priority in our lives. It simultaneously enables and replaces socialization.
On the other hand, recent studies conducted by researchers from Miriam Hospital have found a correlation between lower GPAs and higher social media use in female college students. This further reinforces the idea that while social media may be the norm and is currently popular, I don’t believe it’s bettering society.
So next time you’re bored on the bus on your way home from school, try talking to the person sitting next to you on the shuttle instead of spending the ride scrolling through Instagram. If you’re sitting in a lecture hall, forget about tweeting throughout the class and actually pay attention.
If there’s one thing social media isn’t doing for you, it’s helping you be social.