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You post a picture with your parents and siblings during the holidays. Your friend who lives with her two roommates likes it and reposts it on her story. Her newly divorced aunt sees it. She likes and comments on it. The aunt's daughter notices the comment and sends it to her brother. Her brother shows it to his girlfriend and the girlfriend likes it too. The story continues. 

All the ways we like, share, comment, post and repost are just some examples of how we converse on the Internet. But unlike a face-to-face conversation, we never see the other person’s facial expressions, nor their initial reactions, and we never truly understand how our actions have affected them. Social media has led us to believe that a double tap is affirmation that we have done something right. 

But are we doing something right? The photo you posted of your parents and siblings might have affected your friend who lives with her two roommates. She can’t see her parents because of the lockdown and she doesn’t have the best relationship with her roommates. Her newly divorced aunt reminisces on the once happy family she had before the divorce. The aunt’s daughter and son both feel the same way. The son’s girlfriend hasn’t seen her siblings in years after a stupid fight she regrets. To put a long story short, a single post just reminded five people of how lonely they are.  

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I’m not trying to make you feel bad for the post. It’s not your fault. It’s just the way social media works. People usually scroll through their social media when they are bored and alone, and when you see people spending time together on social media, it’s just an additional reminder that you are bored and alone. You wouldn’t purposely watch someone eat a cake if you were on a diet. Yet, we occupy our time seeing the joys of others when we don’t feel it ourselves.

During the strange holiday season we just experienced, it may have been pretty difficult to scroll through social media. Personally, I couldn’t see most of my family and friends, and seeing posts of individuals who were able to surround themselves with their loved ones made me feel even more lonely. It made me think of how many others might be in a similar, or even worse, situation. 

Throughout this pandemic, we have used social media as an attempt to connect with others, yet we feel even more sad and lonely when we use it. Are we really connecting? Or are we just posting to suppress our masked solitude?  

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I vouched to read about this more and found many studies highlighting the irony of using social media to strengthen social connection. One study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, found that people who limited their social media consumption to thirty minutes a day felt happier, more productive and less anxious. Researchers also concluded that reducing social media consumption leads to fewer feelings of loneliness and depression. This is valuable scientific information that we should be mindful of when continuing to use social media. Why are we letting our screens control our mood? Why is it that we feel inclined to check our socials in fear of missing out? And most importantly: What are we really missing out on?

Emily Nicaso

Queen's U '24

My name is Emily Nicaso and I am a first-year student at Queen's University. I love the arts and am passionate about espresso and sitcoms.
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