Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Social media is a social crisis

Social interaction is being hindered by the need to scroll
(Collegian file photo)

I tried an experiment recently: A friend and I deleted Instagram off of our phones for as long as we could. Whoever re-downloaded it first would lose and face the consequences. We found this experiment important to conduct because we both agreed  how necessary it was to find out just how reliant we were on our social media presences. Sadly, the extent of our experiment only lasted two and a half days. It was a period that felt like a lifetime.

The empty place among my apps felt like a missing friend of sorts, a limb that you try to use only to realize it’s no longer there, leaving you with a hollowed feeling inside.

It sounds dramatic, I know, but try it yourself, and you’ll realize how often you too rely on casually scrolling through the app throughout the day. Whether it be waiting in line at the dining hall, in class before the professor arrives or even hanging out with friends in a dorm room, the almost mechanical action of reaching for our phones has become frighteningly frequent. It’s not just Instagram either; the need to keep up with Snapchat streaks, retweet funny material on Twitter and gather likes on Facebook has turned into an innate need. More and more often we find our validation through these virtual audiences, delving into an intangible reality and making it harder to stay grounded in our real lives.

With this thought in mind, I conceived of the idea for my Instagram-deletion experiment. By deleting Instagram, could I engage more with those around me? Social interactions, and the opportunities for social interactions, are constantly being impaired by our need to scroll, like, share and reply on any platform we can. Hanging out with friends is more and more becoming scrolling through our phones next to one another, and getting to know your classmates is a ridiculous concept when comfortable silence occasionally accompanied by the click of a button or flash of the front camera is much more preferable—how often have you received a Snapchat from someone in the same room as you or sitting at the same table? But more than anything, we use our social media as a safety net. It’s a terrifying concept to sit with someone you don’t know at the dining hall or start up a conversation with the person next to you in the new club you joined. The fear of rejection, awkwardness or social ineptitude is all too consuming, so why not just scroll through Instagram and avoid it all?

The question is how do you change an entire generation’s behavior? Even being fully aware of the ramifications of social media, I myself remain one of the biggest abusers of utilizing my safety net. After all, when those around you are becoming less and less engaged it’s easy to slip into the same pattern. There’s even a way to check how much time you’ve spent on your phone since it was last charged, and the results are usually staggering. In fact, a recent study by Baylor University stated that “60 percent of college students admit they may be addicted to their cell phone, and some indicated they get agitated when it is not in sight.” Even with this knowledge, it feels nearly impossible to curb the itch to pick up your phone at every ping, notification, call or text, no matter what conversation you tune out of while doing so or the real-life interactions you miss out on. After all, the rush of dopamine and feelings of adequacy we receive at every notification that pops up on our screen can create an addictive atmosphere surrounding our devices. However, it’s up to us to choose when and where we engage in our social media presence and remember to remain present with those around us as well, lest we lose out on something much more important.

Chloe Lindahl is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • J

    John aimoFeb 21, 2018 at 1:24 am

    To use social media is a choice, your not required to use it. So how it can be described as a ‘social crisis’ is beyond me and second, how you use social media is up to you.

    I use it to make fun of people and spread chaos over the internet. You don’t have to use it in the way it’s prescribed, it’s actually much more fun and its why those who have big followers do, they figured out how to do things differently.

    • R

      RFeb 21, 2018 at 8:25 pm

      i feel like “spreading chaos over the internet” is exactly where the case could be made for the “social crisis” aspect. this is a big part of how we got neo nazis running around everywhere nowadays and an increasingly large number of people who believe the earth is flat. without trying to separate it too much from its overall context, social media is tailor made for the creation of individual echo chambers. its not just about using it to shut out reality but about choosing to believe in “alternate realities” (alternative facts?) and living as if they were true.

      • J

        John aimoFeb 22, 2018 at 2:05 am

        Okay lol, for one my comment was tongue in cheek.

        Spreading chaos has nothing to do with neo-nazis or ‘alternative facts’ or the earth being flat, you spout these crazy concerns about social media; which in fact make you seem like the irrational one. Sure that is on social media does that justify some sort of call to confront this ‘social crisis’.

        Do you know where else you can find information on neo-nazis and ‘alternative facts’ and ‘earth is flat’ theory, in books. Should books be banned? You can also find it on television. Should TV be banned?

        In some cases for these crazy theories, there are professors who support them, a Florida professor for example supported the conspiracy theory that school shooting was a fraud. Professors have written books about the ‘flat earth’ should we ban professors.

        Nothing needs to be done about social media, there is no ‘social crisis’.