For a vast number of people today, the Internet is inevitable, a fact of the everyday. Billions around the world utilize this remarkable instrument, and social media is one particularly prominent attraction the Internet offers. Social networking sites and their mobile counterparts are extremely popular among youth in particular. For the most part, however, these social media users seem to be greatly missing the potential of this puissant tool. These sites are a medium through which humanity is now able to communicate across unfathomable distances, oftentimes tremendously quickly and with nominal effort. If used appropriately, this incredible technology could lead to innumerable significant advances, specifically from the progressively innovative youth, but this technology continues to be primarily used to portray impossible amplifications of the users’ lives.

All too often, social media is used as means of self-promotion to erect a façade that depicts the user as what they imagine to be appealing to others or to themselves. Typically, a person scrolling through their Facebook or Instagram feed will see an endless stream of smiling faces, exotic destinations, trendy styles of dress and exceptional talents. What started as a quick way to check up on current events in the lives of one’s friends has quickly become mere means for people to shamelessly pick and choose the most modish, sought-after details of their lives to be broadcasted and viewed at the disposal of any and all Internet users. This method of advertising one’s interests and accomplishments has created a generation of youth obsessed with depicting their lives as a fantasy: people recording entire concerts on their Snapchat, traveling to certain locales and attending events exclusively for the purpose of getting a photo of themselves there. This popular ideology among young people that “if you didn’t get a picture of it, it didn’t happen” actually encourages the prospect of preforming acts, oftentimes expending considerable time and effort, with the sole motive of appealing to others rather than for the sake of the act itself.

The age of social media has also spawned a generation of young people that dreads the prospect of leaving their cell phones dormant for even a moment. The concept of going out into the world, even if only to class, lunch or the bathroom is so threatening to much of today’s youth. The ease of access of social media, the vast spectrum that allows for bafflingly rapid and continuous updates, has given legitimacy to the notion that immediate, face-to-face communication with those within one’s proximity is no longer necessary. Essentially, thanks to social media there need never be a dull or uncomfortable moment without swift avoidance provided the convenient emergence of any device with access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The directness of a firsthand interaction is likely intimidating in its seemingly forced intimacy for those who are so accustomed to communication by way of various screens. Not only have many young people become dependent on the reliability of social networks while on the way to meet others, they continue to devote an enormous amount of time to checking sites and apps while actually in the presence of those they are comfortable with. Not only checking on these social media forums, but also obsessively posting the activities, meals and other people involved. There is no such thing as a casual meet-up for most youths today; everything must be captured and publicized for all of the archived world to see. I feel that a notable amount of those who partake in this activity do acknowledge their innate dependence on social media in countless and varying moments of pause. Sadly, an even more select number of young people both notice the severity of their enslavement to social media and venture to make any sort of effort to alter their habits.

With the ability to aptly communicate with the world at large readily available to so many, few pause to consider the power of forming tangible connections with those in their immediate vicinity. So often, people remain fixed on the screens of their computers, tablets or cell phones, oblivious to the real, palpable exchanges that they could have by simply carrying out a conversation with another person directly. While the power of social media has undoubtedly given humanity capabilities to be revered and enjoyed, we must remain respectful of the influence of concrete physical connections with others forged out of prompt, personal interactions. Intricate and beautiful friendships and relationships could very well take shape from the connections one could cast from simply making an effort to bond with real people rather than with a given electronic display surface.

Shelby Rodgers keeps her Facebook as accurate to her real life as pos