Its 2017 and as you walk down the street, through the mall and sadly even attend funerals the most common thing we see is the use of cellular devices and the extreme want to broadcast everything to the world. How many of us can remember growing up before this whole social media frenzy? Some of my most fond memories are of my family and I spending time with each other before everything had to be recorded. You were actually able to live in the moment and experience all of the emotions of an event. There was no social media to help validate you or fill a void of the issues in your life. You just had to simply deal with them. We have become so disconnected from reality. You have to take a moment to ask yourself how has social media shaped our generation.
HAS SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTED THE WAY WE OPERATE ON A DAILY BASIS?
There was a point in my life where I would wake up and immediately check social media before telling God thank you for waking me up. Its like I was so eager to see what was going on on my timeline without mentally preparing myself for my day or just simply focusing on what I needed to be doing. To be totally honest even now I can admit that I spend way too much time on social media. There are so many things I could get done faster and more efficiently if I wasn't on it so much.
Chelsea Arrington: "I feel like social media has affected the way we operate on a day to day basis. Social media interaction now dominates both online and offline conversations. In today's society you're more likely to speak to friends and family through electronic devices than face to face. "
Julian Plowden: "It guides our emotions now and therefore some aspects of our actions."
Chelsea Banks: "I feel as though too many women spend too much time in the mirror today, more than ever. I blame social media. Even for myself. I don't feel like just a regular face with powder and eyeliner is enough. Now, we must contour and highlight, do our eyebrows (which I still haven't mastered), oh and dont forget about that perfect cat eye girl. Its too much. Before, girls were poppin just from eyeliner and eye shadow, but now? That's not enough."
I related so much to Chelsea Banks response because I got so accustomed to seeing all of these pretty women on social media platforms that just looked so flawless all the time that it made me want to be "beat" all the time. Me working in the beauty industry only magnified that as well. Before I would be so free to just walking out of the house without any makeup on but once I became more involved in social media and working in cosmetics I felt like I couldn't leave the house without at least filling in my eyebrows, throwing a little concealer on and a lip product. I couldn't even take a picture without any makeup on because I got so use to what I looked like with it on that I didn't appreciate the girl underneath. Social media has made that the reality of so many women and even men with this generation. We feel the constant need to be perfect all the time and it leads to depression, low self esteem, jealousy and so many other negative things.
Has social media made you feel the need to compare yourself to other people?
Chelsea Arrington: "Some people may answer yes to this question. For me the answer would be no. I know who I am and what I'm able to do. Unfortunately, social media provides us with numerous platforms that help to quickly trigger arrogance. Millennials will compare themselves to a person they never met. A profile page will cause someone to question their accomplishments, appearance, and even personality traits. The reality is, people are constantly showcasing the best aspects of their life onto social media. We emphasize the best versions of ourselves instead of the real versions."
Sineca Butler: "Yes. Not so much anymore but in the beginning of my career I saw the accomplishments of others and found myself comparing my journey to the ones of others."
Julian Plowden: "No, but being a photographer, I see it a lot with images like the ones I take, especially of the models because they're appealing to everyone."
Chelsea Banks: I don't feel like I would be accepted if I dont do makeup like everyone else. In all seriousness, I've been stressing over getting my eyebrows right lol. I feel like I'm behind or something, like I'm not in the "in crowd" because of my eyebrows!! Isn't that crazy?? I dont know how to do highlight and contour for nothing! Lol and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe I need to focus on myself and do the things that are right for me. But some days, I seriously feel like im not good enough or pretty enough. At some point I had to force myself to stop looking at Instagram because I wanted to be like some of those girls. I became really depressed over it. If it weren't for my fiance, I honestly think I would still be upset over it till this day. its sad. I can only imagine how these younger girls may feel. Why can't we just love one another again? Like we use to..."
Social media has also opened up the door for cyber bullying. The amount of bravery which now I realize is only a disguise for insecure cowards is mind blowing. When did it become ok to tear someone down so viciously on an open forum. It seems like now you can't even promote positivity or try to go after your dreams without bitter, insecure and jealous people trying to tear you down. You have people saying nasty things to people who are overweight and now it's a big thing to skinny shame people. You see some of the top ad campaigns trying to promote more curvy body types and plus size women but at the same time they are downing someone else for the way they look. We will never be able to come together as a society and promote healthy lifestyles if we continue to point out each others flaws. Whatever happened to the saying if you dont have anything nice to say dont say it at all. Social media has made people feel like they have to give an opinion on everything. Sometimes silence is golden and you reveal more things about yourself by what you post.
How has social media affected dating in this generation?
Julian Plowden: "I feel like we're discovering we're not as monogamy inclined as we assumed. You can actively see your "options" which causes continual evaluation.
Sineca Butler: "It's made expectations even more unreal than before."
Chelsea Arrington: "I believe this millennial generation, they rely heavily on social media for dating. Social media has been designed to connect people online who already knew each other offline. While most people using social media have formed connections with people whom they didn't know outside of social media. While our parents used to wait hours to speak to their significant others on their home phones. Our parents relied on dates and schools to see theirs, and now we can just text ours all day long. We are so tuned in that we can barely communicate with the other person; even in front of one another we are always checking our phones for new tweets, Instagram posts, snapchat stories, and facebook posts. The internet has made this millennial generation of people who are dependent on social media to reach out to others. We lack true communication skills necessary to maintaining meaningful relationships with not only our significant others, but in our relationships in general. Trust is one of the main issues in relationships today due to the overexposure of social media. Maybe this is our own faults?!?! Has social media made this millennial generation of untrusting, paranoid people? I believe jealousy has been around for as long as human kind, and it is incredibly evident in our society today. Even the more loyal of partners can come under fire by their significant others if they suspect something strange. Yet, maybe trust issues are a very well thing thanks to the advent of social media sites-maybe, some people are not who they say they are."
Chelsea Banks: "Im not really sure how to answer this one. I dont even remember what it was like to date without social media. Isn't that sad? I can remember going to men's pages I was attracted to, liking their pics and the next thing you know they're in my dm's and now we're dating lol. That's a little ghetto but that was how it was for me. I'm pretty sure that's how it is for pretty much everyone. A part of me thinks that's way too easy. I would rather a young guy see me in public and grab my number rather than meeting me on social media but we rarely hear about that anymore. People dont know how to walk up to a lady or guy and meet them naturally. They're dependent on social media to do that for them.
I personally feel like dating has been a struggle for me not only because of social media but because I am a naturally introverted person and I dont really go out a lot to be seen by anyone lol. When I do meet a guy that's interested I always go to social media to do research on a guy to see what kinds of things he posts and the type of people he interacts with. I've found out that guys have lied about being single on social media so its not always a bad thing. I agree with Chelsea Arrington sometimes social media exposes people for who they really are. I feel like a lot of guys are never really content because they have so many options in front of them. They'd rather risk losing a good woman or a great potential partner because social media has made it so easy to not appreciate what you have. A lot of people in this generation are extremely sex driven too. If you're someone like me who chooses to refrain from sex then its even worse for us because a lot of men only pursue women just to have sex. Not many people want lasting relationships. All they want is quick hook ups. Once you make the same mistake so many times you make a conscious decision to do better.
Has social media contributed to depression in your life?
Chelsea Arrington: "Honestly, at one point social media did contribute more to depression in my life. I turned to social media for all of my interactions. It allowed me to fill all voids in my life. But at the same time I feel like even dealing with depression, I looked for ways to cover it up by being on social media. It was more of a 2 in 1 situation when dealing with social media and depression.
Julian Plowden: "Yes, especially with black pain and death. Being a photojournalist and covering marches, I was constantly surrounded by this energy and it felt like a constant funeral. I was grieving I realized. I learned to balance my time from that.
Sineca Butler: "Not depression. Definitely contributed to me comparing myself to others and their journey of success.
Chelsea Banks: "Omg, most definitely! Again in undergrad I was so depressed and stressed out about not being able to keep up with the beautiful, gorgeous women on social media. I stopped going out and hanging with friends because of it. I even stopped dressing up for class and I'm a girly girl! I had my mom worried because she knew there was something wrong. I even wanted to buy new clothes and expensive makeup just to keep up with the hot girls but that was impossible for a college student. I eventually go to the point where I steered away from social media because I didn't like the way it made me feel. I started gaining weight, stopped doing my hair, stopped dressing in my cute clothes. It was terrible and I knew social media was to blame. I'm proud to say that I love the way I look and feel now but before I had to learn the hard way."
Its not all bad right?
Although It's evident that social media has negatively shaped our generation, there are so many positive sides to operating this platform. I love being able to keep up with my loved ones and reconnect with old school friends. Without social media it would be extremely hard to keep up with every single person in our lives. Being an artist and entrepreneur social media has allowed people outside of my city, state and even country be able to view my work. It's a blessing how easy social media makes it for us to promote our businesses and network with amazing individuals who help us on our journey. Social media can do more good than harm if used properly. Our human nature corrupts the system of how we operate on these platforms.
I would like to close this by saying no matter how many likes you get or don't get that does not define who you are as a person. You have to truly understand who you are and what you were created to do. We must begin to start reclaiming our relationships back. Take some time to put your phone down and enjoy life. Check on someone you love by picking up the phone and seeing how they are doing instead of checking their social platform. If I can be truly transparent being an artist and very active on social media I often get a lot of interactions on these platforms but there will be days that go by and not one single person takes the time to text or call me to see how I'm doing. It makes you feel lonely and unloved. Take time to check on someone who you think has it all together. Ladies it doesn't matter how many photo shop apps you use to perfect yourself if you dont love who you are when you go home and look in the mirror you will never be content.
I would love to give a special thanks to these amazing individuals for taking the time to speak with me for this blog post.
Chelsea Arrington CEO of General Changers
Chelsea Banks student at Troy University studying for her masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Sineca Butler Makeup Artist
Julian Plowden Photo Journalist