The Catalyst

When Social Media Becomes a Chore

Anna Fowler, Staff Writer

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About a year ago, I opened the Snapchat app on my phone for the first time in over a month. I had dozens of pictures from my friends waiting there for me. Even though I was not responding, they continued sending several “snaps” to me each day. Let’s rewind to a month earlier. I had established “streaks” with many of my friends (made when you send pictures to each other for many days in a row), and now, maintaining these streaks had started to consume a lot of my time. I felt obligated to respond to everyone, even if they had simply sent me a picture of a wall. Even though I was never really communicating with anyone, I was at least keeping in touch with them, especially the people I never got to see at school. Snapchat, however, became such a focal point for me that I rarely texted anyone anymore except for my best friend and my parents. I had instead become complacent with sending people pictures of a black screen in order to maintain my streaks. I was becoming a sad, streak-saving robot. To be completely honest, this redundancy made it even easier for me to go Snapchat-sober. In fact, throughout the entire time I wasn’t using Snapchat, I never had the desire to check it. When I actually did open the app again a month later, it was for another cause.

Social media has caused a new generation of young adults to experience intense FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). One missed post or message could mean that the next time you see a group of friends, they could have gotten together without you because they simply thought you were ignoring them or just didn’t see the message. For me, behind each day of social media sobriety laid missed opportunities. It may sound hyperbolic, but this is the reality of modern social norms. I found that, although I did not miss tending to each opened message, I felt more disconnected than I ever had before from my friends. I grew apart from many people, and then, making myself feel worse, I thought that they just didn’t want to talk to me anymore, when in reality I had been the one to burn the technological bridges. By this time, I was only really ever hanging out with my best friend. That was it. When I realized this fact and had a conversation about it with her, we both agreed we had been enabling each other to remain isolated. With each rare occurrence of free time, we would automatically gravitate towards one another, and if one of us was not available, the other would simply stay at home, not reaching out to anyone else. I decided that the benefits outweighed the drawbacks, and I decided to venture back into the world of streaks and stories, but this time, with some insight. I decided to send meaningful pictures and messages (not just my face or a wall) and to not feel obligated to respond when I did not want to. For me, this was all a balancing act, and I am happier now that I have found an equilibrium.

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