I had several people comment to me this week about how the upcoming generation relies too heavily on social media. Young adults are becoming self-consumed by platforms that allow them to share every detail of their lives. I’ve even seen jokes on Pinterest about how when children grow up, they won’t have any useful skills, but they will know how to take a great selfie in the bathroom mirror.
As young adults, we can help set an example for the following generation and combat the selfie culture. Here’s how:
1. Use social media selflessly. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to share minute details of our lives that we wouldn’t think twice about keeping to ourselves otherwise. Instead of posting pictures of ourselves with our coffee or in the bathroom mirror so the world can see our bad (or good) hair day, we can still post about things we love while taking the attention off ourselves. Use social media to post information that is beneficial to other people or to spread word about a good cause.
Instead of posting a picture of ourselves making a silly face we think everyone really wants to see, why don’t we post a picture of ourselves with a group of friends having fun? That way, we can move the focus toward friendship and the activity we’re doing together instead of asking people to comment on our looks. We can do the same when we try new food at a restaurant. People don’t want to see us — they want to see the food we’re raving about! Post a picture of it and comment on how good it is or why it’s good.
2. Spend more time talking with friends in person or over the phone than online — and make it genuine. The less time you spend talking with friends online, the less you’ll be tempted to post random comments about tiny details in your life. You won’t have to post a picture of yourself in your favorite outfit; you can wear it to meet friends and receive real compliments.
All too often (and I’m guilty of this myself) we meet up with friends for a meal or coffee and end up leaving our phones on the table. Any time they light up, we reach for them. We do it even if the other person is still talking. Unless you plan to take a photo with the other person, forget about social media while you are in community with other people. Whatever you’re tempted to post can wait until you get home — if it’s even important enough to remember once you get there.
3. Practice short media fasts. I am a huge fan of technology and social media, but I notice a difference in my attitude when I stop using it for a while. I am able to focus better on other people, and I become less distracted. I know we struggle with feelings of missing out on something when we refrain from social media, but the posts will still be there. And if something is important or urgent, there are other ways for people to contact you and let you know.
It’s important for our generation and those following to be able to pull away from the self-centered tendencies social media creates. We should be able to function without updating Instagram or Facebook every couple of hours or even every day. I’m not saying a selfie is always bad, but we should think twice about our motives and how often we post pictures of ourselves just for attention. An occasional selfie is just fine, but when it starts becoming a habit, we need to take an intentional step back. We should be able to find other things to do and other ways to occupy our time.