By Allihies Melton

What’s something that brings everyone together while you’re alone?

The answer: social media.

The way it can uplift and also destroy is both magical and manipulative. I am sure we have all been victims to its games. That’s why I stopped playing over a year ago; not entirely, but enough so I can have a good control on my mental and physical health.

And while I may be called sensitive, a “snowflake” or a baby hiding behind her safe space crib, it’s my choice and I know it’s not for everybody.

My social media use is this: I have a Facebook where I spend most of the time looking at food videos, pictures of dogs and reading news articles. I also have a professional Twitter I use to follow news outlets. I do not follow my friends or any celebrities. I also have the Snapchat app, I do not accept or have any friends, I solely use it to watch news organization’s daily stories.

I am no saint and I am always trying to decrease my “scrolling” time as well as my Netflix consumption. However, I have felt that getting rid of my Instagram, my Snapchat and my personal Twitter was one of the greatest decisions for myself. I feel more attentive in a conversation, I feel less of a need to check my accounts and I am not prying people to take that one great picture.

I feel more free, confident and clear-headed.

I am not anti-social media and I do believe social media can do a lot of good and can be used safely and positively. I have learned about people’s opinions and perspectives through Twitter, I have seen amazing life adventures on Instagram and I have felt secure knowing my two sisters just posted an hour ago on Snapchat.

I am a journalist after all, and I am a proponent of capturing the moment, the event, the person and telling that story. But, I have been betrayed by false realities on social media that I have portrayed myself or I have seen firsthand.

My self-esteem used to thrive off of that selfie I posted, the one where I turned up the brightness so my cheekbones would be more defined, or that subtweet about a boy who wronged me.

While I do enjoy sharing my life and my thoughts with people, I do not think this type of engagement was a positive outlet for me. For a lot of my friends and colleagues it is, and I applaud them for that. I do not believe in regrets, but one thing I am ashamed of is following people, liking their posts, but not actually knowing how they really see the world.

For those who saw me as a distant follower or a face they only saw through a bunch of filters and edits: I am sorry and I hope we can get to know each other in person.

I hold a lot of pride, as well as hope, in my fellow peers and millennials to not only change the future for the better but frankly, to save the entire world from environmental, economical and political destruction. My faith in this young generation may be naïve, but it’s a risk I am willing to take. I believe this generation more than others is progressing more favorably, however technology addictions and social media use is becoming a problem, according to several researchers.

The facts regarding social media use aren’t great and I want the public to be more conscious and cautious about their use. Spending the entire day on your timeline isn’t going to set off a bomb, but it could be detrimental to one’s mental and physical health.

According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the more time young adults spend on social media, the more likely they are to become depressed. Another alarming statistic — the average Internet user used social media and messaging services for over two hours per day, according to Global Web Index.

As I am writing this article, I am on a bus on the way to Burlington, Vermont. This article is taking me longer than most because I keep looking out the window experiencing the fall foliage among the mountain.. And these views and these moments are mine, just mine. A hundred likes and a filter can never prove this experience, or my friendships, relationships, beliefs, love and life to anybody.

To my friends, family, peers and readers: I just ask of you to look up more. Sometimes life is too precious, too amazing and too quick to have your head somewhere where your own being isn’t.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Blogtrepreneur’s Flickr.

Allie Melton is a senior journalism major and can be reached at allihiesmelton@yahoo.com.

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