#Bored: How Social Media Is Making This Generation Distracted And Unhappy

by Taylor Stinson

Feeling down after creeping a random person's Instagram feed filled with beautiful outfits, exquisite eats and awe-inspiring vacations?

Odds are, you aren't the only one feeling down in the dumps about your seemingly boring, mundane life.

Take a look at your own Instagram photos. You most likely have a similar page of glamorous photos, showcasing the best highlights from the past couple months of your life: that glorious walk in the park on a sunny afternoon with the brilliantly chosen filter, or that crazy-fun dinner with all your friends a few weeks back.

Good times, right? Too bad they are forgotten so quickly.

Facebook and Instagram are platforms filled with social comparisons, which can quickly lead to fears of missing out, or that of unpopularity. Gen-Y is used to living at a fast pace and dealing with crammed schedules, meaning downtime -- or alone time -- can be depressing for some people.

The New Yorker recently ran a story about a study surrounding Facebook and the potential for loneliness, based on a study from the University of Michigan. The article talks about the ways in which attention and boredom inform our perceptions about our online presences.

When we are paying attention, we are actively engaged; when we fail to engage, we are bored. The more we passively browse, as opposed to posting something and engaging ourselves, the more we are prone we are to social comparison and feelings of jealousy.

Twitter is slightly more inclusive than more personal platforms, like Facebook; the quick 140-word tweets are acceptable forms of open social engagement amongst strangers. Most tweets are public, which facilitates easy conversations about important topics that affect all areas of the world and can involve just about anyone.

Pinterest is another example of a social media platform that serves to encourage inclusivity amongst people online. So why, then, are we sometimes considered so unhappy when we are surrounded by constant stimulation and opportunities to engage in multiple forms of social interaction?

It's pretty common for people to overestimate how happy other people are; the grass usually does appear greener on the other side. Gen-Y, especially, is prone to disillusions of high expectations.

In an increasingly online world that requires social media as a prerequisite for employment, social invitations and a general means of connecting, it's hard to refrain from comparing what you have to what others have, and wanting more as a result.

Social media creates a world where everything is out in the open, hence the common misconception: People who post more are happier with their lives, while people who are struggling share less.

There are, of course, those rant statuses, or obvious digs towards an unpleasant offline interaction, but for the most part, Millennials tend to focus on the fun, exciting and most important aspects of their personal lives in their updates.

Gen-Y has no patience for boredom; as a generation that practically grew up in front of the TV and had the advantage of accessing the newest technologies as soon as they came on the market (smartphones, laptops, iPods), it is unusual to be without some form of technological distraction.

It's become easier to avoid socially awkward situations with social media, looking at what someone else is doing while we ourselves are -- at least in the moment -- doing nothing.

The biggest difference between generations is quite possibly the ways in which we experience social outings and gatherings, as well. It's not uncommon to witness an entire group of 20-somethings sitting at a table in a restaurant tweeting their experience, taking pictures of their food or texting the other friends who aren't present.

Even if you're one of those people who hate staring at a screen instead of eating an amazing dinner, eventually you give in and scroll through the Facebook posts you have seen multiple times, simply because everyone else is distracted and on their phones.

If Gen-Y can somehow learn to unplug, we would be a lot happier as a whole. In a fast-paced society that demands immediate responses, it can be easy to convince yourself that disconnecting from the social media world will negatively impact your ability to keep up and keep you from potential opportunities.

However, taking a much-needed break from the modern day rat race can give you the real-world inspiration perhaps needed to better yourself and expand your world views.

Photo via We Heart It