Living Unplugged in a Social Media-driven World

Chloe Farquhar, Editor, Staff Writer

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“There are times where I feel like I’m really lost, that I don’t what’s happening, whether it’s people that I know or, like, trendy things. Sometimes I feel left out…” Sophomore Carolyn Starr expressed what it feels like to be a teenager who doesn’t use social media.

“I feel like there’s a lot of things that I’m naive to…” Starr explains.

Though she is at an age where social media is a big deal to many people and is used constantly, Carolyn Starr has never known what it’s like to use social media like most teens do. However, the absence of social media in her life is not exactly a personal choice.

When she was near the start of her high school days, she had a conversation with her parents about social media. This conversation resulted in her dad telling her that she couldn’t use it because it is a “waste of time,” and she didn’t need to be involving herself with it. Though she doesn’t really mind not being able to use it, there are times where it has left her feeling disconnected and out of the loop.

“It just kind of bums me out ‘cause I feel like there’s more people I could talk to,” Starr said. “It’d be easier for me to talk to them.”

Starr explains that there are old friends and family members who she does not get to really talk to because she isn’t on social media. She mentions that she wishes she could talk to friends from middle school that she no longer sees or talk to more of her family members, especially those who live out of state.

Starr also added that not having social media causes her to feel like she is missing out on things and lacking connection with her friends.

“I feel like I don’t really know what goes on in their life,” Starr says. Without social media, she doesn’t always have a “heads up” on what is going on with her friends; if something changes, she won’t know about it until after everyone else does. She also says that not being on social media, like most of her friends are, makes her feel forgotten. Sometimes she feels that she isn’t acknowledged or considered part of their life because she isn’t a part of the platforms that they use to reflect who they are.

Not only does lack of social media use affect the information she knows and the feelings she has about her relationships with her friends, but it also leaves her feeling like she can’t connect with them the same way that others who use social media can.

“I feel like it’s easier for them to connect with each other because they know what’s happening,” Starr adds as she describes how she sees her friends with social media interact with each other. She believes that people who use social media have an easier time connecting with things and each other because they know about the current trends, memes, and information on their family and friends.  

Despite all of the things she feels she is missing out on because she doesn’t use social media, the potential negative effects it could have on her outweigh the positive things that she can get from it. However, Carolyn is not the only teen who sees the negativity that comes from social media.

According to the newspaper The Guardian, more and more teens are becoming aware of the detrimental effects that social media has on their lives and the lives of those around them. The article “Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use social media” states that 58 percent of teens took at least one break from social media or were considering taking a break; 44 percent got off of social media to use their time more valuably; and 41 percent said that social media makes them feel anxious, sad, and depressed. Many of these teens chose to stop using social media because they have seen how it can cause people to become “zombified” and lose interest and ability to have face to face interactions, represent themselves in dishonest ways, compete and compare themselves with others to see who is happier, and get distracted from school and jobs.

Starr has expressed similar disinterest in social media as these teens.

“I think I’d be a lot less productive… that’s something for me to really get sucked into easily,” Starr says. She mentioned that if she had social media it would probably consume a lot of her time and distract her from schoolwork.

Similar to the thought of people being “zombified” that was mentioned in the article from The Guardian, Starr added that talking to people in person could become harder because all of her time with them would be “consumed with an interaction over a screen.”

Most importantly, Carolyn Starr feels social media would be a major negative addition to her life because it would affect her self-esteem and push her to be someone that she’s not.

“I feel like I would be a lot more insecure ‘cause I’d wanna compare myself to these people I’m seeing” Starr says.

She explained that she sees how other people who use social media are constantly worrying about what others think about them, and she thinks that she might end up having a similar mindset if she were to use social media.

Having social media influence her and change the person that she is seems to be the main reason why social media is now unappealing to Carolyn; it outweighs all of the reasons why social media could benefit her.

“As much as I’d love to be more involved with the people I know, what I think about myself is more important than what I think other people think of me,” Starr said. “I wouldn’t wanna end up conforming myself to what’s ‘trendy’ and becoming more like the general populace.”