I was born in 1999, along with approximately 3.9 million millennials. When we were seven, Apple had released their first touch screen phone. When we were eleven, Instagram launched; when we were fourteen we were among the first students to measure popularity and general well-being with numerical sets of likes, comments, and followers. At seventeen, nicotine aggressively reemerged in a more palatable discrete form, and Uber gave us cheap access to the endless amounts of dates easily obtained through Tinder. I describe an urban/suburban setting, where I strongly believe that over the years these unbridled stimulants have ruined us. I see my friends and classmates as overly anxious and deeply unsatisfied. My friends are unable to properly socialize, and passing their time on body editing apps instead of exploring their body’s ability through sports and exercise.
Researching the effects of social media on young adults is complicated. The obsessive college student in me spent hours looking for solid statistics, and data analytics attempting to support my thesis, however, the results were disappointing, and well, complicated. According to a study conducted at Harvard, there has been a significant increase in anxiety among teens who spend more time on screens, duh. The problem is, nobody knows the long term effects yet.
Now I am not saying we are all like this, or that we are all incapable of communication. What I am saying is that we have been introduced to short cuts that no previous generation has ever experienced. Dating apps like Hinge, and Tinder, make going out on Saturday night a night “for the boys”, because a girl can be swiped right on for easy “netflix and chill” on Sunday night. News doesn’t travel, it is available instantaneously. Gossip, magazines, and interviews are no longer needed if Billie Elish can post to her fans exactly what she needs to say then and there.
These issues, along with many more around topics of body confidence, obsessive ex-boyfriend stalking, and constant comparison are why I am deleting Instagram. I remember telling my dad one day over dinner that, “I don’t even need to check the news, if something is important enough it will pop up on my Instagram feed.” It is only after a month without the app on my phone that I realized how self-absorbed, and extremely dangerous that is (exactly what Cambridge Analytica targeted!). It is no one’s responsibility but your own to maintain recent world knowledge, and it is unhealthy to assume that a two-dimensional timeline reflects the multiplicity of human progress going on all around us.
So that is why I am deleting my Instagram, and I hope these thoughts at the very least resonate with some of your own experiences. I urge you to ask yourself if every picture you take is necessary? Will more likes on your photos truly make you happy? But most importantly, what is Instagram distracting you from? And how could your time be better spent?