Think about your last 30 minutes. What did you do? Did you scroll through your newsfeed, gaping at photos of friends with children? Maybe you refreshed your Twitter feed several hundred times and retweeted Relatable Facts. Or maybe you took a selfie or Snapchatted your BFF. Whatever you did, it probably involved connecting without contact.
But who could resist with so many options? I could like coffee on Facebook, tweet that I’m currently drinking coffee, update my LinkedIn that I’m good at drinking coffee, post a video of me drinking coffee on YouTube (as well as a few “vintage” photos of my coffee cup and a Vine of me sipping my coffee for three seconds), pin a couple of recipes for coffee on Pinterest and check in to my favorite coffee shop on FourSquare. I have the tools to let others know I’m having such a fabulous time sitting here drinking coffee, and you’re not.
I’m a social media addict — I’ll admit it. I have a Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I actively browse Imgur and Reddit and also text. But I have also reached the point where I have become sick and tired of staring at my phone when I have nothing else to do. I mean does it really matter Jane Doe wore that? But most importantly, why do I have that initial impulse? It’s a scary feeling that I have become so accustomed to scrolling my Facebook newsfeed that I’ll just do it without a thought. If my phone is dead or I left my room without it, suddenly I feel as if I’m missing a chunk of my life — what am I supposed to do in order to avoid real world contact? Make conversation, or the worst, make eye contact? Uh, awkward.
This constant need to be connected via the Internet has absolutely broken down simple forms of communication, causing problems in conversations as important as interviews. It might be comical to think that you would reply to a text in an interview or that you would not know the difference between a casual conversation and an interview, but our generation has come into conflict with virtual and real life. We may not know it, but our constant communication has seeped into our mannerisms, and even our psychology. The instant gratification from the Internet has made us impatient, shortening our attention span and making us scream TL;DR when prompted to read a long — or heaven forbid, complex — writing piece. Our brains have also been programmed to Facebook and the like — we actually get a rush of dopamine from social media notifications, which is ultimately the reason why it’s so addicting.
Yes, the Internet is an amazing feat of technology. I can Skype relatives I have never met in the Philippines, keep in touch with friends and family back home and share what matters to me. The Internet has become a vital part of our lives. But at the same time, it’s all superficial. While we update or post, we go further into the Internet’s abyss — so far that it’s counter-productive and instead of becoming closer to friends, we become detached and lonely, hiding behind a screen and some text. It’s great that I can have an ongoing text conversation throughout the day, but I’d really rather actually “LOL” with a friend over a cup of coffee.
Megan McDonald is an LSA sophomore.