The photo of my dog I posted to Instagram is up to 30 likes — Yahtzee! My tweet about the mumbling homeless man doing the moonwalk just got 17 retweets — score! And all the while, throughout the excitement I earnestly glean from social media success, I think to myself, so the f*ck what? Has social media bred a group of self-absorbed, narcissistic people within Gen-Y? In short, yes.
Social media dependence facilitates an undying craving for validation, and it's problematic. Since the launch of Facebook, we’ve largely lost the ability to stay in touch offline. With our ever-increasing online presences and digital footprints, we’ve become a group of people who are more concerned with our “likes” and less concerned with whether or not we like what we’re actually doing.
We seek approval and attention from others — oftentimes, from strangers. We seek likes on Instagram and Facebook and followers on Twitter, and are losing the ability to develop and maintain real-world interpersonal relationships.
Twitter is great for discussing sports, pop culture and everything in-between, but, the platform has essentially created a generation of followers. Instagram has made it possible for us to digitally share every picture we ever take, which is awesome, but are we at risk for traveling to exotic locales only to snap the photos and upload them without really noticing where we are? We’re more concerned with our images than with imagining. Do we even realize where we go or take the time to admire what we really see?
With our digital footprints, we're always trying to one-up other people. We're concerning ourselves too much with fake interactions with people online while we fail to get to know each other offline. We’re concerned with how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers we have; we text instead of call; we email instead of write; we’re losing communication abilities. Blind dates no longer exist — there are no more secrets or surprises in life.
We’re minimizing the events in our lives and focusing on how to broadcast them on social media. I no longer want to be concerned when someone asks me to be his or her friend on Facebook or when someone un-follows me on Twitter, because ultimately, who cares? The number of people who are digitally self-absorbed is growing amidst our generation, and it’s concerning.
Until you choose to unplug and actively appreciate events in your life, you’re locking yourself in a cycle of digital narcissism. You must turn off your phone, your computer and your tablet and just appreciate what occurs around you.
You’re only missing out in life if you waste time worrying whether or not your tweet is funny, or if your photos will get likes. Live your life for you and forget worrying about what other people think. Appreciate and acknowledge the nuances you witness — even if you don’t update them to Facebook.
Photo credit: Saw