A NEW VIEW: Is social media shifting our priorities from real life to online?

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It’s no secret social media is at the center of everything in today’s society. It’s easier than ever to stay connected to our surroundings. But what is this connection costing us?

Some say this generation is losing the art of face-to-face conversation. Relationships don’t last nearly as long as they used to because it’s easier than ever for individuals to find attention elsewhere.

The spreading of social media’s popularity has also brought with it a strange phenomenon: people who are famous simply for the things that they post.

Some of these people are individuals striving to be professional photographers who post their work online. Others, like 18-year-old Australian Essena O’Neill, are famous simply for their selfies.

O’Neill has over half a million followers on Instagram and over 250,000 subscribers on YouTube. Her followers loved her “flawless” selfies and the confidence that just seemed to radiate from her.

What once was a dream come true for O’Neill has become her greatest downfall. She announced to her followers that she would be on a hiatus from social media and that she would be changing all of her photos’ captions to reflect her true emotions about what she has become.

“I was addicted to what others thought of me, simply because it was so readily available,” she wrote. “I was severely addicted. I believed how many likes and followers I had correlated to how many people liked me. I didn’t even see it happening, but social media had become my sole identity. I didn’t even know what I was without it.”

It’s so easy now to turn to a computer screen to find compliments and attention. It’s easy to get caught up in waiting to see how many likes your status will get or how many people will comment on your pictures telling you that you’re “#goals.”

Maybe critics of our generation are right. Maybe the most difficult thing for us really is building meaningful in-person relationships.

At what point did we lose sight of what truly matters? When did we begin putting more value on how many retweets we get than how we treat people?

Actual interaction is much more meaningful than anything we could get on a computer screen. You may not remember how many likes the status you posted yesterday got 10 years from now, but you’ll definitely remember the night you spent out with your best friends.

When we remain focused on social media, we begin to lose sight of all the things that bring us happiness. The obsession with finding the perfect filter for our picture is not nearly as important as going out and exploring the world around us.

Some people measure their value and self-worth based on how many followers they have. All of those Facebook friends mean nothing if you feel empty once you’ve logged off.

They say you can find just about everything on the Internet today, but that’s not true. You can’t find the person you truly want to be anywhere online.

Nancy Peyton can be contacted at [email protected]

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