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Column

Andrew Schmidt, BJU student and Collegian writer, sits for a Collegian headshot, BJU, Greenville, SC, September 26, 2017. (Rebecca Snyder)

Imagine my surprise as I reached a full week of deleting social media apps from my phone and noted that the sun still rises, the world still turns and South Carolina’s weather still manages to fit all four seasons into the course of one day.

The concept of taking a “social media break” has quickly gained popularity in the last few years, becoming a common trend on social media, ironically enough.

My “social media break” came about more from personal reasons than social pressure, those personal reasons being that I frequently found myself feeling miserable after spending time on social media.

As I scrolled through photos and text posts, I frequently found myself feeling lonely, inadequate, untalented or otherwise lacking. In spite of this, I still dutifully checked Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at least two or three times a day.

Slowly becoming more self-aware of this trend led me to ask, what about social media is so compelling? For me and many others, social media dependence stems from an unfounded fear that we might miss something. It’s impossible to say just what that “something” is, but the idea of being the only one to miss out remains a truly terrifying prospect.

During the short time I’ve been “unplugged,” I’ve been astonished to notice that the sky hasn’t fallen and human existence hasn’t come to a sudden and tragic end.  

In fact, I noticed I gradually missed social media less and less every day. And as far as my social life, I think it helped incite me to ask people about their lives in the real world.

Now, before you walk away, this isn’t about to become one of those articles about how “the kids these days” are always on their phones and don’t know how to communicate in the real world. 

There’s nothing wrong with social media. It can be a wonderful tool for staying in touch with friends and family. But it does not portray the real world.

People, companies and organizations that use social media present a view of the world as they would like people to see it. People share happy memories, not the unpleasant or boring ones. People show off good pictures of themselves, not the awkward accidental selfies they took when they open the front-facing camera by mistake. Artists and companies on social media publish their greatest successes, not their failures.

This results in the creation of an idealized world that would be impossible for anyone to recreate. And for many social media users like myself, viewing this impossible perfection on social media makes us feel inferior.

Once again, I’m not saying social media is evil. In fact, I will probably reinstall mine soon. But it’s worthwhile for all of us to remember that things we miss while scrolling through our newsfeeds and wishing for a better life far outweigh worries about “missing out” on the social media world for a few days.