3 Ways Social Media Makes Us Terrible People

3 Ways Social Media Makes Us Terrible People

A little while ago, there was a video circulating the internet called “I Forgot My Phone.” If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here. If you don’t feel like watching it, it’s basically a commentary on how social media isolates us and while our lives are more accessible, social media actually disconnects us. We’re so focused on documenting our lives that we’re not actually taking the time to enjoy our experiences.

“I know it’s getting cold but I haven’t picked the right filter yet!”
I know I’ve been guilty of the same thing so I’m not pointing fingers, or at least I’m trying not to. What I’ve been noticing as a result, however, is that as we as a society are forgetting how to interact with each other in person. Behind our computer screens, we’ll post everything from the intimate details of our sex lives to pictures of poop. It used to be that people felt braver to behave badly behind their computer screens (see: any YouTube comments) but it’s starting to bleed over into our real life interactions. Websites like Twitter have led us to believe that every little thing happening in our lives is important and worth sharing with the public.

Someone on my Facebook newsfeed recently posted an update stating the time.
This really happened.
I wish I were making it up.
This sense of importance has translated into people thinking that they are the center of attention not only on their Facebook profiles but everywhere they go. Perhaps my views are just tainted by the fact that I work in the service industry but social media seems to be turning us into shitty people.
1. We are too impatient.
No one likes to wait. However, this sense of entitlement from social media appears to have not only made people dislike waiting even more but incapable of waiting. Come on, think about the last time you had to deal with slow internet or a phone that took too long to load an app.

Tonight was a perfect example. My husband and I went to the store and while we picked up a few groceries, we put in an order at the deli counter for a couple sandwiches. While they were making the sandwiches, we cruised around the store and picked out our groceries the way we’ve done a dozen times before. We came back and my husband saw a couple people fill out some slips for sandwiches and maybe thirty seconds later, sandwiches were finished and the people grabbed them and went off about their shopping. We thought it was odd that ours weren’t up yet so we waited. And waited. And waited. I was about to ask the lady behind the deli counter about our sandwiches when the couple came back up to the counter and declared, “Um, these aren’t our sandwiches!” The woman behind the counter gave them a look like they were slightly stupid and held up the sandwiches she had just finished making. The couple took their sandwiches and returned the others which, it turned out, were our sandwiches.

Normally this wouldn’t be too big of a deal to me because hey, accidents happen. But the sandwiches are labeled with the customers’ names as per the order slips that they themselves filled out. “Sue” looks a little different from “Emily.” But this is kind of my point–these people filled out slips for sandwiches and then assumed that the sandwiches that came up less than a minute later had to be theirs because clearly they were the only people in the crowded deli. People have become unable to consider that someone else might receive service before them because Instagram never says, “Hang on, fourteen other people are posting pictures of that same sunset. We’ll get to yours in a minute,” when they hit the submit button.

Which leads to . . .
2. We can’t fathom that everything we want isn’t available at the moment we want it.

People are not Google.
I once had a girl come into the bar and order a certain type of vodka. When I told her we didn’t carry that particular brand, she threw a tantrum. An adult, at least of legal drinking age, threw a full blown tantrum that the bar she was at didn’t have her preferred drink. I suggested alternate brands that we did have in stock and she begrudgingly picked one. After I made the drink for her I set it on the bar and told her how much she owed. The girl ignored me while texting something in her phone, no doubt updating her Facebook about what a stupid bar this was. I waited a moment and watched her proceed to use her purse to push over a stack of plastic water glasses that were set up at the water station beside her. She glanced down at the cups and then back up at me, holding out her card for me to run. “Oops,” she said, glaring at me with one eyebrow raised.
All because I told her we didn’t carry her favorite kind of vodka.

Or any drink.

We’re becoming ruder as a people because we feel this sense of entitlement that not only are we the center of the universe but everyone around us should be catering to our every need the way our computer does. Facebook wants to know what’s on our minds or how we’re feeling and we get so used to that mentality that it seems inconceivable that everyone else doesn’t care about us like social media does. We spend all this time staring at our belly buttons that we fail to notice that other people exist around us.

Which leads to . . .

3. We don’t have any perspective.

It’s easy to become consumed by Facebook drama. He said this, she didn’t like my post, they didn’t reply to my message, blah blah blah. This is why websites like White Whine exist. In other parts of the world, it’s a big deal if you didn’t get eaten by a lion today.

Or chased by a hippo. Those things are fucking terrifying.

In the grand scheme of our lives, none of the petty bullshit is going to matter, not even if some oblivious lady steals your sandwich at the deli counter.

So what am I saying? Is social media evil and we should all burn our computers? Absolutely not (and besides, computers are expensive and there’s only so much a warranty will cover). In fact, I think social media has its merits. I think it’s fantastic that I’m able to stay in touch with so many friends and members of my family and a lot of positivity spread through social medias.

That’s . . . not quite what I meant.

What I’m saying that we need to be aware of how much we control we give social medias. We should use them without letting them consume us. There’s nothing wrong with staying in touch or using the internet for fun but we need to remember how to unplug. We need to go outside or have a conversation or eat a meal without feeling the need to document every little moment. Instead of viewing our experiences through a camera lens, we need to view them with our eyes and learn how to be present and actually make memories instead of pictures.

Social medias won’t wither away and die if we limit our exposure. If we leave our phones at home every once in a while, it’s okay. They’ll be there when we get back. And by then, maybe we’ll have friends who have decided to help us unlock the next soul-sucking episode of Candy Crush Saga.

Think about it.

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