In an ever-increasing world of technology and communication, there is one common ground that unites almost every culture: the takeover of social media. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and many more allow us to form and maintain friendships around the globe, and provide us also with an idealised version of ourselves; however, society has now become somewhat obsessed with how our online personalities are perceived. The necessity to be constantly connected has become overpowering.
After a stressful few weeks last month, I decided that I had had enough of the persistent comparisons and obsessions that came with these types of social media. An unhealthy amount of my time was spent delving into the details of others’ lives, reaching a point where I forgot to enjoy the experiences of my own. So, coinciding with a well-needed holiday to Greece with two of my closest friends, I made a pact that I would leave my phone zipped away in my suitcase from the second we took off at Gatwick airport; the results were more fulfilling than I had ever expected.
In summary, I felt liberated: I soon came to realise how lucky I was to be in such wonderful company in one of the world’s most stunning places. When lying on the beach, instead of immediately connecting to the WiFi and snapchatting a photo of the view to my friends in the UK, I was able to appreciate the beauty of where I was. I found that, when talking to my friends, I listened intently (for the first time in a while) to every single thing that was said. In a word, I felt more present – to quote one friend, it was the ‘first time they felt that they had my full attention’. I was able to fully appreciate the humour, quirks and general good company of friends that I had known for years, and the conversations were, as a result, far more stimulating.
It is amazing to see, when you tune out the constant hum of social media and the online lives of those familiar to you, the array of interesting people that you can meet. Taxi drivers, bartenders, people in shops and on planes: if you are hiding behind the wall of an iPhone, these incredible and engaging people will pass you by. With a population of over 7 billion people, the world is a diverse and exciting place. Why limit this to your 600-or-so Facebook friends, who are likely to all be of a similar background and upbringing to yourself?
I would urge everyone to try and limit the amount of times that your news feeds are refreshed, the amount of Snapchat stories you post, and the amount of WhatsApp group chats you join. Even if only for a week or two, I guarantee that you will feel more happy and fulfilled than blinkering yourself (both literally and metaphorically) with the light from a screen.
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