Are We Wasting Our Lives?|Gen Z Perspective on Social Media

A few years ago, I wasn’t allowed on any form of social media, and the allure of something forbidden to me yet used by many of my peers caused me to spend almost all of middle school begging my mom to let me on Instagram. She finally relented when I turned 14.

Now, almost two years later, I’m starting to understand my mom’s reluctance. My generation is hopelessly addicted to the Internet- myself absolutely included- and I’m beginning to realize that social media is honestly overrated. And I don’t think I’m the only person who thinks so: the amount of people I know who have said they wish they didn’t have social media is, quite frankly, surprising. So why does everyone still use it religiously? Should we be cutting back? Is social media even that bad?

What Makes Social Media Addicting?

Well, for me…

  1. It alleviates boredom– My chronic social media addiction compounded severely during the spring and summer, for one reason in particular: I was bored. The hours I’d used to spend doing schoolwork or doing things outside of the house were easily replaced by my phone.
  2. It provides social validation– This is one of the most disturbingly strong pulls for me. I am decidedly not popular at school, or really anywhere for that matter, and I constantly feel pressure to post whenever I have a picture of me that doesn’t look bad, or if I have accomplished something interesting. This is bad. The more I think about it, the worse it seems, and I know I am not the only person who feels like this.
  3. It satisfies your nosiness and curiosity– What is really the point of social media if not an outlet for people to pry into other people’s business? But the question I ask myself is, why do I feel so compelled to check Instagram and see all the people from my school post their selfies? It doesn’t make me feel good about myself. So why do I always feel the need to do it? I went on an Instagram cleanse about a month ago, during which I unfollowed almost 150 people. No regrets.
  4. It has become a source for news and politics– This one is mostly specific to 2020… if you live in America, you’d know that we’re in the midst of a very heated presidential election race at the moment. And I mean VERY heated. As a result of this, social media is flooded with political posts. I can’t stop looking at social media to check out what people are posting about, and every time, I’m bound to see something that makes me angry or upset. Especially if I look on the explore page. Every time. There’s no avoiding it. And, perversely, that only makes me want to check more often.
  5. It’s designed to keep you coming back– my history teacher recommended the Netflix documentary “Social Dilemma”, which I haven’t yet watched because we don’t have Netflix. Or do we? I don’t know because I’ve never watched Netflix in my life. (Yes, I know, I’m so quirky). But I don’t have to watch that documentary to realize that social media companies benefit from your usage. I deleted Instagram for Lent in 2019 and in 2020, and both years, I was constantly bombarded with emails from Instagram begging me to come back and “check out what I’d missed”. And it’s so easy to get sucked into the infinite scrolling trap!

I’ve also noticed SO many weird social constructs and habits that I adhere to because everyone else does, and after a while, I’ve started to realize just how pointless some of them are.

Weird Social Constructs of my Generation

  1. Obsession with followers– My friend and I used to always compare how many followers we had on Instagram (“I have 315 now, how many do you have?”) which, taking a step back, is honestly concerning. This kind of conversation isn’t particularly harmful, but it demonstrates everyone’s preoccupation with social approval on Instagram. I used to get really offended if I noticed that someone unfollowed me, even if I barely knew them, because it made me feel like people didn’t care about me at all. I deleted Instagram for Lent this past year because I was just fed up with this kind of thinking
  2. Vapid comments– If you look at a girl’s post on Instagram, the comments will be FILLED with “so cute!” “so gorgeous!” “pretty girl!” “so pretty!” from all her friends. Everyone posts the exact same comments on everyone’s posts, and the weird thing is that they still feel validating. There’s nothing wrong with commenting nice things on people’s posts; I just find it disconcerting that these kinds of comments can become less of a compliment and more of a common social courtesy that you say to everyone. I always feel supremely fake as the tenth person to comment “so cute!” on someone’s post
  3. Judging people– I feel like everyone judges you on Instagram. I see people’s posts and I silently judge them. And I carefully curate my own posts to make my life seem more interesting than it actually is. Sometimes I find myself looking at someone else’s feed and feeling really bad about myself, because it looks like they have so many more friends than me, their life is so much more fun, they are so much more photogenic. That’s another reason I deleted Instagram for Lent; it’s not super great for my self-esteem.
  4. Obsessing over Snapchat streaks– I got Snapchat about a year ago, and I already barely use it anymore. In all honesty, I don’t understand how Snapchat is considered addictive… at all. When I first got the app, I tried to keep my streaks with everyone, but after a while I stopped caring. There’s only so many times you can send pictures of the ceiling to your friends before it dawns on you that Snapchat is kind of pointless… I mostly just watch people’s stories now. But it’s weird to me that people put so much effort into preserving their streaks.
  5. Fairy comments– Listen, I know fairy comments are supposed to be a joke but… some of them go WAY too far. I also just don’t like when people think “no *sparkle* *fairy* *nail polish* *heart*” is a legitimate argument rebuttal. Sorry! (I really don’t belong in Gen Z, do I…)

Are We Wasting Our Lives?

It’s time to answer the titular question of this article. Is social media wasting our lives?

Well, the answer isn’t a definitive yes or no.

Are there better things you could be doing with your life other than scrolling through your phone, wishing you were more like someone else, just trying to pass the time in quarantine? Yes, there are. But you could make that claim about almost any activity.

Does social media have some merits to it? Of course.

It can be informative and it can be fun. It can help you connect with people. The question is: have we crossed the line of dependency?

I know people who spend 14 HOURS on their phones every single day. That number has probably increased in quarantine, but even pre-corona, it was a rarity to see anyone at school not on their phone.

Would I be able to delete social media? Probably. Do I want to? Kind of.
But I don’t think the answer is necessarily to get rid of social media. Instead, I think we need to break our dependence on it. Like they always say, moderation is key.

What do you think about social media? Do you spend a lot of time on it? Let me know in the comments!

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*Note- I have been SO busy since school has started, so I haven’t had much free time to be active on WordPress. I’ve been trying to stay updated on my reader with other people’s posts as much as I can, but it has been a lot!*

22 thoughts on “Are We Wasting Our Lives?|Gen Z Perspective on Social Media

  1. As someone who’s parents restricted all social media use until recently, I completely understand your thoughts about social media. I guess for me, I find my self spending more time then I would like on Instagram but I have also learned that setting boundaries for Instagram is helpful to me. For example I do not have instagram on my laptop or phone just on my family’s iPad.
    Ultimately, I think you are right. :)) Moderation is key.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As someone who was an adult before social media ever became a thing, I’m definitely feeling the difference between how my mind works now than when I was a child. So yeah, if we’re over-using it for nothing other than just mindless scrolling, then we are wasting our lives. But if we’re disciplined with our use, it is a legit form of relaxing. Thanks for bringing up such an important topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? YES, it does. Delete Twitter. Don’t post pictures. Live your life and be free from social media. Form your OWN opinions! BE Happy!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. this is a very thoughtful post on social media. It’s also interesting & refreshing to hear about social media from someone from generation z. I’m in generation y, the generation that was the last one to play outside before social media & internet took off. I think it’s harder to be generation z because you grew up with the internet from such a young age. Tech devices were always there at your fingertips. It’s as much a part of your life as the food you eat and water you drink.
    I agree that social media is very important as you outlined in your post and it’s not going away anytime soon. I think it’s important to take a break (for lent as you say) once in awhile to detox. too much of anything isn’t good and social media definitely isn’t an exception.
    Great post again. Looking forward to reading more posts from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I absolutely agree with every single point you’ve mentioned here. I’ve never used Instagram or Netflix despite being so called Gen Z and I keep reading articles on why such apps are harmful in the long run.
    I could also relate to how you said people comment the same thing on multiple accounts, I’ve noticed the same in the blogosphere as well. Wonderfully insightful write!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m on the old end of Gen Z, so going into middle school for me was MySpace and the start of Facebook. And I think that the similarities and differences between growing up in that time and now is interesting because both were addictive platforms, but I’d argue that social media is even more addictive now because feeds are no longer chronological, therefore you don’t know when they “end.” It’s weird growing up in it as well because older generations didn’t understand how it worked, but now seeing young GenZ/old genAlpha go through the same thing makes it feel like a weird cycle. I feel like I have a good balance on it, but that balance can always break. I’m hoping that there’s more education for social media now that there’s several people that have grown up with it, because I think that addictive nature is really hard to navigate when it’s been so new that such a small percent of the population grew up with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Everything you said in this post is so true! I just recently wrote a post about why I left Instagram and it lined up with a lot of what you wrote about. Yeah, the “so cute!” “so pretty!”-type of commenting has become as quick to say as “bless you” and the obligatory “how are you?”/”good” interactions. Many aspects of social media (how people choose to use it) has gotten farther and farther from having a point and actual meaning.
    I used to love Pinterest but then the platform moved away from connecting with friends and became overloaded by ads and I couldn’t find who I was following anymore… it was very sad.
    Moderation is definitely key! There have been times when I really liked following one account on Instagram, being subscribed to two YouTube channels, pinning a few types of pins on Pinterest, etc. By using those platforms in such a way that my life was enriched and my time was well-spent, then my experience wasn’t toxic or causing me to feel negatively at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos (ironically) and listening to podcasts on this topic recently. It seems that influencers are thinking a lot more about how they are spending time on social media now that covid is a thing. I appreciate that, because I think our generation is quite unhealthy when it comes to social media. I don’t have any social media unless you count YouTube, and I chose to do that because it is the wisest for me personally, and my mental health. I completely agree with you on what you say in this post, and I think that no one has to go and get rid of social media, but it can be harmful if you are dependent on it. Thanks for your thoughts on the topic!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Loving your insights. 😂 Honestly, I didn’t make it to the snapchat train somehow and even tho I see 20 somethings using it as well, I feel like it’s more of a middle school business. And I just don’t get why that app is so popular.

    I both love and hate social media. I love seeing what other people create, appreciating their work bonding with other creators, even if it is sometimes superficial.

    However, I hate how social media works in general. You either go with the flow with commenting, following and liking (and even content you create) or you can take your account behind the barn and shoot it (I just feel that way sometimes, hopefully somebody can disagree). It’s also a major creativity blocker. Sometimes content I really like myself doesn’t get any reaction while some random thing that took no thought at all does. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

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