Finding a Happy Media… I Mean Medium

 A longtime friend of mine recently started his own blog and has written a couple of pieces on technology and what it is doing to our generation. His post titled “The Facebook Facade” really got me thinking about how modern social media has caused us to believe that everyone is living such wonderful lives since we only post pictures of what we want people to see. I totally agree with what he says and would suggest that you take a gander at his post because it is a really good read!

Anyway, the reason I’m telling you about Stephen’s blog is that it got me interested in writing about the subject as well, except from a different perspective. Personally, I think that pointing out only the positive things that are going on in life is a good thing and could quite possibly be beneficial to our mental health.

I’ll elaborate:

When we constantly focus on the negative things in our lives it is sure to make us unhappy. Not only that, but if we are constantly posting about how mad or upset something makes us then were putting our negative comments out there for the world to see and bumming everyone else out too. Now that Facebook has the “On this day” feature, I sometimes look back on statuses that I posted 5 years ago, complaining about doing homework or being mad about something and I thank God that I grew up and I no longer care to use Facebook as a public diary. Nowadays, I’m only want to share the fun, positive things that are going on in my life.

My point is that I don’t think anyone wants to read a bunch of complaints when they open their social media pages, they want to read about your latest accomplishments and look at the fun pictures you’ve posted. I’m not saying that you should pretend to be happy all the time if you aren’t, no one has a perfect life and social media serves as a great way to ask friends and family for prayers when you’re going through difficult times. But if you stop using Facebook to publicly complain and focus on the good things instead, then you will probably be happier because of it.

If you’re going out and doing fun things with friends just for the sake of taking a good Instagram picture well… at least you’re going out and doing something rather than staying at home staring at a computer screen. But our devices can seriously take away from actually enjoying the moment. We need to focus on making memories rather than making Instagram collages.

 For me, modern technology serves as a way to communicate instantly with my family and friends even though I am over 2,000 miles away. It’s pretty crazy to think that I have a device which I can touch a few times and it will link me to a face to face conversation with a friend via FaceTime. Now that I’m far from home I am truly thankful for the technology I have, whereas when I was at home surrounded by friends and family, technology served as more of a distraction from spending time with them.

At home I would try not to use my phone at the dinner table or in the company of friends, but anyone who constantly checks their social media sites understands how difficult it can be. In Stephen’s more recent post about technology titled ” The Human Stops” (another good read) he pointed out all of the negative impacts that technology is having on us and the fact that people our age are literally addicted to their phones. It’s true and it is not okay, we shouldn’t feel so dependent on our devices. When I’m at a restaurant and I see a family of four, each person with their eyes locked on their phones, I laugh a little at first and then I realize how sad it actually is.

A while ago I saw a viral photo of a boy and his grandmother, she looked like she just wanted to spend some quality time with her grandson but he was not interested since his attention was being given to the device that he was playing games on. This picture made me so sad because I really cherish the time that I was able to spend with my grandparents as a child and I think it’s important for people to have good relationships with their grandparents. On the bright side, as an adult, I get to use technology to communicate with my grandparents while I’m living here in North Carolina. I get frequent text messages from my grandma and grandpa and it makes me very happy to be able to communicate with them so often.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to understand how privileged we are to be living with modern technology. We have to find a balance and not allow our devices to take over our lives. We need to use our devices for the more important things in life. Let’s make goals to use our phones at appropriate times and to actually live the lives that we want people to think we’re living.

Here are a few ways (that I could think of) to detach yourself from technology:

1– Don’t text and drive!!! Not only is it distracting, but it’s also SO dangerous. I personally don’t do it because I am horrible at it and I’d probably accidentally hit a tree. Even if you are good at multitasking you shouldn’t do it! Try to keep your phone in your glovebox or somewhere out of reach while you’re driving.

2– Leave your phone in your car before you enter a restaurant. Don’t be that family of four with your phones out in a public restaurant! Enjoy the time you spend over quality meals with friends and family. When you’re old and dying you won’t remember all of the Instagram photos you looked at, but you will remember the good times you spent with loved ones.

3– Enjoy the moment! If you’re one of those people who goes to the beach just to take a picture of your tanned legs looking like hot dogs on the sand then this one is for you. Plan trips to make memories, don’t obsess over taking pictures of everything or documenting every step you take. Take pictures when you can but focus more on actually having fun.

4– Use your phone for good! Call your grandparents or text an old friend. Actually communicating with people rather than just “liking” their photos makes a huge difference!

5– Prioritize! For me, technology can be distracting and I easily forget to do the things that I need to do because I get stuck reading articles or watching videos. Something that I’ve started to do is use the Notebook app in my phone to make a list of the things that I need to get done on a certain day. This way if I get distracted on my phone, I can quickly switch back to my Notebook app and remind myself what I should be doing. And you don’t have to waste paper!

6– Use Facebook to create events and invite friends that you haven’t seen in a while. You don’t even have to throw a big party,  you can just invite a bunch of people to a bar or restaurant to meet up and hang out. It’s a great way to catch up with old friends and get out of the house for a night instead of sitting at your computer commenting on their statuses.

7– Exercise! Staring at a phone or computer screen has to be horrible for our eyes, so take a break and go on a walk or go to the gym to keep yourself busy and off of your phone.

8– Stay positive! Social media was created as a way to stay in touch with friends who live far away, but it has turned into strangers arguing with other strangers in the comment section of viral videos. If you are a person who does this, please stop immediately. You’re only fueling anger and quite honestly making yourself look like an ass. Just focus on the things that make you happy and ignore the negative stuff.

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