Don’t make social media a top priority, spend some time offline with loved ones

Abigail Kruse and Abigail Kruse

My semester has gotten off to a zippy start, but I didn’t expect much less with five classes in one day.

During one of my classes, my professor showed a video called “Live Life the Real Way.” Please, everybody, go watch it.

This spoken-word performance featuring a man with a delightful British accent is all about how social media has changed the way we interact – and maybe not for the better.

It’s pretty moving, as it takes viewers through one couple’s life together and has something of an “It’s a Wonderful Life” vibe, only without the happy ending.

There are sobering images of empty parks with still swings and sidewalks devoid of chalk and jump ropes while children play inside on iPads and video games, unaware of an era that didn’t include smart phones.

I can’t say it’s too big of an exaggeration.

My sixteen-year-old cousin works at Bob Evan’s and frequently reports, with disgust, the number of couples and families she sees eating together in silence, lost in their individual digital worlds.

The front-page photo of the December 26, 2014, issue of my sleepy hometown’s newspaper featured three teenagers at the mall sitting on a bench, two of them on their phones.

Here’s what my friends and I did at the mall back in our day: we took goofy pictures in the photo booth, spent too much money playing Skee-Ball in the arcade and drooled over earrings at Claire’s, dreaming of the day our parents would let us get our ears pierced.

Am I saying social media is evil? Of course not.

I’m thankful for Facebook, because it truly is a way to connect, at least a bit, with people I graduated high school with and relatives and friends who live far away. Skype was a lifesaver during break when I missed my friends from school.

As a soon-to-be English teacher, I don’t find a thing wrong with e-readers. Reading is reading. Though I enjoy holding and, yes, smelling physical books, I also enjoy the convenience, lightness and cheapness of my Kindle.

My goal is simply to remind people to let the online world have its place in your life rather than becoming your life.

As much as it serves to connect, I’ve found that it can also divide. It can make us jealous of others’ accomplishments and happy times, because we think we have missed some boat and we become unhappy.

A friend of mine mentioned, after seeing the tenth or so engagement announcement of the holiday season, that they were so annoyed that it was hard for them to even be happy for the brides-to-be. That’s pretty sad.

Pretty, pretty please, disconnect once in a while. I love seeing signs outside restaurants and such proclaiming, “No, we don’t have WiFi. Talk to each other!” That is a huge step in the right direction.

Or maybe I should say a step back in the right direction.

“This media we call social,” the poem says, “is anything but.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to document good times, on-fleek outfits and maybe even a particularly scrumptious Starbucks order.

Just don’t make it a priority.

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