Column: Connecting with Real Life

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Column: Connecting with Real Life

In a social media world where selfies and ice bucket challenges have run rampant, our generation has become accustomed to instant gratification to pacify small attention spans and superficial intake flows of information.

The last time I went out to eat, I found myself watching other customers while I waited for my food. While watching, I saw many tables full of people mesmerized by whatever was on their smartphone screens instead of interacting with the people right next to or in front of them.

In a social media world where selfies and ice bucket challenges have run rampant, our generation has become accustomed to instant gratification to pacify small attention spans and superficial intake flows of information. When something isn’t interesting anymore or during a waiting period, the automatic reaction is to whip out the smartphone to find something to appease us.

According to an official blog posted by Instagram, a photo sharing application for smartphones, the app has more than 200 million active user accounts every month. The “like” button on photos is clicked approximately 8,000 times by users every second.

As large as those numbers may seem, Facebook user statistics are more than five times higher. Facebook reports more than 1 billion active users monthly and 800 million users daily.

Today’s generation has become more concerned with virtual profiles than building face-to-face relationships.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe that texting and social media can be good avenues of communication. Technology and media can be used in multiple ways to meet needs.

Texting usually provides a quicker, more succinct response than an email when appropriate. Social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, allows users to connect and interact with family and friends across the country or even across the world.

However, too much focus is placed on what technology and media can do for us as a society, and too little importance is given to what they also do to us.

With the explosion of technology over the past five to 10 years, the purpose of those outlets has been abused. Overstimulation and the immediacy of information have lowered our abilities to be patient and intake information.

The part of our brain that processes and files information isn’t being exercised nearly as much as it could or should be exercised. Consequently, our minds lack a strong ability to focus when we are in class or interacting with others, according to research conducted by Michael Rush, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston.

Our society clings to social media and technology from a fear of missing out. What we don’t realize is that we are actually missing out in our real lives, not the world of media.

Too many people today are virtually living behind a profile where they measure the number of friends they have by the likes on a profile picture.

As a society, we need to unplug from our smartphones and tablets and connect with real life. We could all get more out of our classes, conversations and daily life if we fully focus on the people and opportunities right in front of us.