Unfortunately, teens are becoming more isolated from the outside world. This epidemic is infecting us at an alarming rate.
In the rising generation we have become more scientifically advanced as human beings. We have developed new interests and trends in the past decade. In this new, modern world we have achieved huge breakthroughs as a human race. But we have also created new distractions and lures that secretly harm our wellbeing. An example of a modern day distraction is technology, or more specifically, social media.
Technology has been extremely beneficial for us. It’s helped us learn more, keep in touch with family, and know what’s going on in the world. However, it’s become a natural phenomenon in our rising generation.
Today's teens were introduced to a society where technology was starting to become an everyday thing. We have known what cell phones and computers are since we were infants. Teenagers are the first generation to have this as a norm. Mobile phones were the new, cool trend and we were born in the perfect time period to be introduced to them. When I was just a little toddler, I couldn’t go a day without playing on my Nintendo DS.
The first recognizable social media was created in 1997 to help us connect and share with each other as a society. I think it’s done quite the opposite.
Social media algorithms are designed to keep you hooked on your phone for as long as possible. These big tech companies want you to keep playing their games and viewing their articles because that’s how they make profit. Video game companies use addicting tactics like gambling, loot boxes, and the feeling of constantly being close to winning; it lures us into playing for hours, non-stop on their games.
Social media was created to ideally unite us and connect with each other. But in reality, it has stealthily alienated us from each other. Do you stare at a screen and unconsciously analyze and observe other people's lives and compare yourself to them? Does it give you a feeling that you are missing out on something or maybe it makes you feel like you’re not as good as someone else?
People only display the “perfect parts” or an idealized fantasy life on social media, instead of sharing their authentic self. This discourages people from engaging in their real life because of other people’s false realities. People post the best attributes or characteristics about themselves, for example posting, all the cool stuff they own, which makes us feel less than them. For example, I am often quick to judge people based on what they act like on social media. In reality I’m judging a false reality that doesn’t exist.
A few studies (by: Dublin Business School, Department of Psychology) have been conducted that involved teenagers and how they feel about their lives. Teenagers that post more about themselves and what is happening in their lives, tend to be more insecure and anxious about themselves. Teens that don't post as often, aren’t as self-absorbed, and feel much better about themselves and life.
This anxiety and pressure forms us into introverts. Teens are starting to steer away from real life social interaction because they are afraid that they might be judged or disapproved by others. Teens feel much safer talking to people on a screen because it’s a bypass from reality. When you interact with people online, we don’t personally connect with them. There’s less risk and we don’t have to show our true selves. This is a reason why teens are becoming less social and more isolated from the outside world.
Social media and technology is an escape from reality. We hide ourselves in a digital world where no one can hurt us or judge us. We stay behind a screen so we can be protected from life's challenges. The result is we don't bother to take risks and meet people as often anymore.
We’re not even learning how to physically engage because we don’t have to in the social media fantasy life. This new digital world is preventing real emotions and us connecting with each other. Because teens aren’t taking time to connect with each other, we feel like we are all alone and have no one to relate to.
There is a glimmer of hope to stop this increasing alienation from each other. Teens can still make connections with each other if we change our lifestyles before we develop a habit of isolation and solitude.
Relating to myself, when I feel meaningless, unproductive, or even depressed, I strive to find out why. It’s usually when I'm bored or being lazy or I’m lacking social interaction. But I realized being happy and self-assured is much more complicated than I initially thought. So I thought of a system that breaks my social media habits and personally gives me happiness and life satisfaction.
I call it the Five Buckets. It consists of five central ideas or elements that are essential for a human being to be happy and healthy. I have found this to be extremely helpful in the recent years of my life. It gives a perfect balance of all the important factors of my life.
2. Play: Everyone needs a break or even a small vacation once in a while. It is healthy to take some time to relax after a hard day at school. Watch a movie, play a game with family, try baking a cake. I like to watch Netflix shows in my free time.
3. Social: Human interaction is extremely important and necessary for someone to function. This includes talking with friends, doing recreational activities, hosting a party, inviting someone to dinner, dating and relationships, (etc.) I look forward to skiing with my brother because we like to challenge each other.
4. Knowledge: Make it a goal to obtain knowledge and wisdom. Try learning something new and/or gain a hobby. Knowledge allows us to make better decisions in our lives. This includes going to school and learning how to function as a person in society. I have recently gained a new hobby of learning, researching, and keeping tropical fish. This has helped me learn responsibility and financing when it comes to funding projects.
5. Spirit or Culture: Whether you participate in a religion or culture, you can have core beliefs that you value. Find answers and meanings that are important to you. We need to express and stand up for what we believe in. I value the time I have to help and serve people in need. In the upcoming holiday season, my family is planning on offering baked treats to nearby friends that are sick or lonely this season. It makes me feel valuable when I see people thankful for what I've done for them.
The Five Bucket system gives me a sense of meaning, like I really belong in society. It gives me a regular routine to look forward to and embrace. It is a perfect balance of all the important things in my life that I find beneficial.
I invite my friends that are stuck in cycles of isolation, sadness, and loneliness to step into the real world with me. I have also become smarter and happier as I regulate how long I spend on my phone.
I know it’s hard getting off social media. However, it really does give a sense of peace when you can finally escape the isolation and loneliness that comes from the digital world and instead achieve happiness and meaning.