Social Media. The best and worst thing to happen to our generation

Fresh after returning from 2 years overseas living and working in beautiful British Columbia, Canada I thought I’d use my first week back to take a passenger seat approach to my life in Australia. I wanted to use this week to apply for jobs, organise a car and catch up with friends. But as I set out to achieve these things I can’t help but think social media’s ‘expectation’ is playing a big part in today’s society.

Friends come and go but you always know who the real ones are, the ones who you can chat with after 2 years away and nothing’s changed. Same pub, (with renovations), same schooner of Mid and the same mentality yet more complex and real conversations. I love those people, and whether it is catching up over a beer or having a coffee at your mates cafe, a lot can change over 2 years.

People value different things, that’s normal but I think what people value in today’s society is shaped by a fake image portrayed over social media. I’m guilty of it, in my first year abroad i used to thrash snapchat with my travel posts, about how I road tripped through America over 6 weeks, snowboarding everyday in Canadian mountains.

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The more I started to snapchat, instagram and facebook the more I began to realise social media is both the best and worst thing to happen to our generation so i dropped off the grid, chose a phone plan that had unlimited texting, no calls and no data. Being able to contact my mum and dad from across the other side of the world through a facebook message or video chat though is awesome but it was only limited to wifi. It’s truly helpful, easy and accessible and if ever I was feeling down or needed advice from someone social media was what I used to stay connected, but still it felt a little different to a face to face conversation. I think in moderation (like most things)and using it with a different approach, the approach of using it to stay in contact became more important to me than posting photos of all the things I did and all the food I ate that day.

I think we have become so reliant on it, often at dinner with friends or at the pub at least one or two of your mates has their phone in their hand snapchatting, facebooking, messaging or even on tinder. There’s 2 girls across the other side of the room you wouldn’t even dream of approaching and starting a conversation with, when you can send a message to them. Any split second gap in your life is spent on social media, looking at your friends, heroes and comparing your life to theirs, wanting to be at the exact point in life that they’re at.

‘Expectations’ are very influential and cloud your judgement of someone by their use of social media. “Oh not another my story of him on a night out”, “All he does is post photos, of the beach, he doesn’t even go”. I get that social media is to be used individually, but at the same time it’s being used to compare each other at their perceived best. I believe this need to post something is brought on by the expectation to up the person who just posted the best part of their day on social media. It’s now at a point where social media is not used to stay in contact but rather be better than someone else, to show off to your network, to do it better than they have done. It’s creating a very passive aggressive society to the point we are not even happy seeing our friends posting photos doing the things they love. Rather what I have observed is the compulsion to plan the next social media assault of why their life is better. I can’t help but feel that instead of being proud of our friends and being happy for them we are being overshadowed by the feeling of expectation.

I’m a little disappointed social media is now a pissing contest, and as I said we’re all guilty of it. I think if we took a step back see and how we use social media today as opposed to when it was first created, I think we’d all be pretty shocked at how superficial social media can make us look and the contrast that its original idea is to stay in touch with friends. It’s up to us not compare and criticise but to observe and appreciate the things we and our friends have achieved.

Drop the word expectation out of your vocabulary, you don’t need it. Just because someone is at a particular point in their life which you perceive as ahead or behind you means nothing. People travel at their own pace, value different things and social media tries to dissimulate us all to the point we have to be better than one another by taking photos or videos and displaying on the internet because we feel like our life isn’t good enough. I often feel society is set up as a ladder, the idea that you have to get to the next step so you can look down on everyone else. Let’s make an effort to get it back to where we use it to stay in touch with our friends and be happy about it not spiteful. Lets use it to connect so we can catch up for a beer or coffee and have a genuine conversation rather than sitting on the screens of our phones, sending messages to a group chat on facebook about how pretentious someone’s life is because of the social media presence.

We use it because it’s accessible and we feel compelled to let everyone know how great our life is. But at the end of the day the only person you should be comparing your life to is yourself, Your friends like you for you, not because you have an incredible snapchat story. Don’t feel obliged to prove yourself, you may not know how, but as long as you know where you’re going your friends and family will help you get there, not the negative viewpoints of a friend of a friend whose opinion has no impact on your life. You can only control whats in your control. Be the best you can be, do all the things you love, it’s nice to share the odd photo or video, but lets not let it consume our life. Save those awesome photos for your grandkids, your family, the people that matter not to some random bloke in the suburbs of Brisbane who barely knows you and is already passing judgement on your life.

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