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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

I guess you can say my phone and I are taking a break because I have about had it. It has been like this for a while, but maybe with Fall dawning upon us, my emotions are all out on the table. It is not that I hate my phone, but more how it has taken over every aspect of my life, almost without notice. Throughout my life, I have always seen myself as a creative, friendly person. There are many things I want to do with my time, but it all feels out of reach in the real world because everything’s being taken over online. 

My self-image has been tainted by technology’s system of manipulating our minds into thinking we are seeing the full truth. Sometimes I will see another person’s posts, feeling as if they are living their best life. In actuality, talking to that person in real life exposes the truth, showing it is not all sunshine and rainbows. People even feel this way when they view my profile, and I know this because they have told me. One time, a mutual online had messaged me saying I looked a lot happier than years prior. It was funny, because at the time I had just received some really harsh medical news that had me feeling like I was drowning in sorrow and self-pity. The mutual would have probably never been able to predict that, given how all my photos were of me beaming head-to-toe, appearing like I too was living my best life. 

Words along with photos often get mistranslated online. Many times, I have had arguments and misunderstandings over text messages with friends and family. When we are not there in person with one another, the use of punctuation and linguistics feels like an attack instead of just using proper grammar. Communicating over the phone is so tiring, sometimes making me feel like I am disrupting someone’s day. On the other hand, having this kind of access is encouraging because it continues growing relationships with people on campus, the community, and others from all over the world. 

Ever since the COVID-19 lockdowns, making in-person relationships feels harder than ever. Cliques and friend groups are all around campus and plastered online to ensure people know they follow with their crew. I have tried meeting these people out at nightlife events, and they will not even look my way if I am not in the sorority or artistic group they formed prior to my attendance at VCU. So, I have turned to my phone to try to make friends online, using Instagram and Bumble BFF, upping my online presence to maybe tract attention from other fellow creatives or people looking for true friendships.

Shifting my focus from friends to creating a creative presence online is no easier. My phone is now a casting call. It should be a place of work and pleasure, but the two cannot seem to truly balance with one another. Always being required to be judged on my profile to submit my Instagram handle for any job, volunteer, or club role I want to fulfill when I just want to share my talents and be a part of something special. If I want my art to reach a wider audience, they always say to make a TikTok or upload something somewhere.

Having an online presence is weird because we only allow so much of our lives to be portrayed, with the audience only being able to take those parts in since it is all they get. We do not truly get to know the user as themselves unless we are met face-to-face. There are many times I have interacted with others online, creating uniquely, quirky online relationships that never surface in the real world. We will comment, repost, and maybe even message one another, but never have a moment in person to make a judgment of who that person is.

Sometimes these emotions can get too heavy, and even I can recognize it might be a little dramatic. Although, I do not find it odd that I am impacted both positively and negatively by my phone. So, anytime I do need a break from my phone, I step outside. More recently, I have been taking long walks and will just go with no destination to anywhere. When I get that moment away from all the buzzing and chatter of voices I have never even met, I do not feel like a zombie wired to something so artificially configured. I go outside and see life actually happening around me. There are people actually smiling because they are happy, walking their dogs around the park pond, or randomly getting a discount from their favorite local coffee shop —and it feels beautiful again because it feels real. 

Those moments make me imagine a world where our phones never existed. Would it be different? Would I not feel so locked in the stereotypes others have fabricated for myself? Would it not feel like my life is ticking on a timer from the pressures of growing up being plastered on my feed? Almost immediately after these revelations occur, I need to check my phone for work, school, or job updates. And you can call me weak, lazy, or whatever comes to mind, but I just can’t do it. I cannot make my entire life be dictated online, and for my profile to be a dartboard for people to play around with. Sometimes, to be happy is to hide from the spotlight, straying weary from the prestige others want to fill their cups with. 

Hello, my name is Megan! Inspired by the differences between rural and urban culture, I have a strong interest in bringing subjects to life by showcasing the simplistic and beautiful side of humans. With creativity, self-expression can be amplified to cure self-image. Honing my skills in photography, writing, music, and crocheting, storytelling has helped me branch off into the professional world always working towards originality. These hobbies have turned into aspirations, leading me to Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue an English degree.