Column: Tweet this! Why I don’t have social media


Photo credit: Scarlet Levin

Freshmen Bey Weston and Katie Nash browse social media together. Social media is a popular way to connect and share online.

One of the most popular forms of communication these days is social media. One can surf the waves of Hawaii in their pajamas or celebrate an old friend from college’s wedding thousands of miles away. With platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr, physical interaction is barely needed, which is why someone like me — who doesn’t have any social media — can easily feel out of the loop.

Contrary to popular belief amongst my peers, my parents do allow me to have social media. When someone says, “I don’t have social media,” others often assume he or she is forbidden from having it — but not in my case. For me, I simply don’t want it.

I’ve heard stories of girls my age who create an art account on Instagram only to be discovered by their idols or likewise. Arguably, putting my drawings online for others to critique does sound appealing, so what is stopping me? The real truth is: nothing. It was a decision I made for myself long before I even knew what the internet was.

One could argue I was a late bloomer to the whole “digital entertainment” concept. My mom did not let me watch anything on Disney Channel for her fear of it being more for “teens.” So I grew up watching “Sesame Street” well after I grew out of it, while my friends discussed the latest episode of “ICarly”  and whether or not Troy Bolton from “High School Musical” was “crush-worthy.” 

I live in a generation where growing up on electronic entertainment is practically a necessity in order to fit in with society’s culture. Even today, as a freshman in 2018, I am sometimes hit with the realization that I cannot join in when my grade bursts into a cacophonic rendition of the theme song from “The Suite Life on Deck,” a television show which aired a full decade ago. In addition, I saw my first movie in theaters when I turned ten, “Toy Story 3,” watched my first YouTube video in 2016 and just bought my first phone in June.

You read that right — June of 2017.  This, too, was a personal choice. I disliked not being able to keep in touch with friends over the summer, and all my browsing would have to be done on my ancient MacBook Air, but for me, owning a phone meant less time I could spend reading, sketching or doing things I wanted to do back before I owned a phone. I thought that it would completely change who I am: morals, goals, all of it.

Only part of this came true. I spend less time now reading than I did before, maybe replacing it with a particularly intriguing episode of “Black Mirror” instead. However, looking up drawing references is easier than ever, and I can finally text my mom whenever she is late picking me up, instead of standing and waiting concerned. My morals did not shift because I got a phone because I do not let a piece of machinery change who I am. As long as I think of an iPhone as a tool, rather than become reliant on it, I have the control. I could turn it off just as easily as I turn it on in the morning, which is a reason I don’t plan on getting social media. 

While I appreciate social media in that it connects you to people you may not see every day, I would much rather live in the now. ”

Digital communication is a hive of ideas, trends, comparisons and emotions that forces you to evaluate how you feel about society. Like I mentioned before, you could practically travel the world from your bed in a single minute and then discover a new juice cleanse the next. While I appreciate social media in that it connects you to people you may not see every day, I would much rather live in the now. Call me corny or cheesy for saying it, but living in the now is important — really! It helps you take a deep breath, notice a freckle on your arm and live without worrying about getting a great picture for the digital world. Not having to worry about Snapchat streaks or liking each friend’s picture lets me draw for four straight hours (yes, I’ve done it), snuggle up in my bed or see people I love to hang out with in person, not through a screen.

There is nothing wrong with social media, but for me, it isn’t something I need to begin anytime soon. Not needing to check my phone for notifications means I can use it less and live in the now.

The Huffington Post published a wonderful article on potential health benefits of taking on the popular “social media cleanse,” a break from social media. Benefits include getting a more restful night sleep and increasing the desire to exercise. Most importantly, it mentions that you do not need to get rid of social media forever. If you would like to unplug from social media or electronics altogether, try it for just 24 hours at first. Re-organize your room, hang out with a friend, bake something — do what makes you truly happy. 

Living without social media, I feel I lack virtually (get it?) nothing, and through this lifestyle I have been able to discover more about the world and myself than I thought possible.