Let’s face it: social media dominates today’s culture.
Our phones, in many ways, are extensions of ourselves. Ever notice the creeping anxiety in your stomach when it’s missing from your jean pockets? That feeling that you could miss something important?
Welcome to the now.
We’re in a digital age where TikTok memes and Snapchat streaks are the avenues to navigate our social landscape.
But what is it like living unplugged?
I’ve primarily existed off of the social media grid — twitter aside (for professional purposes) — for a number of years now. With a few occasions where I make a two-month return because of FOMO (fear of missing out), I choose to spend my days with Instagram likes out of my life. Lately, I’ve come to question if that’s such a good idea.
See, college campus life these days relies heavily on social media. Clubs and organizations on campus promote their events through it. It offers quick ways to connect with people in classes or in your dorm — a fast way to make new friends. If you want to find the nearest party on the odd Saturday night, look no further than your Snapmap and see where your friends are congregating.
I’ve found that it’s a lot harder to be engaged in the so-called “social sphere” because I opt out of most social media. There’s this fear I have: I’m missing out on the best years of my life — some LED-lit rager in the Logan Neighborhood or the romance of a lifetime. While everyone's out and about, I’m alone in my dorm watching "Spirited Away" for the tenth time.
That’s what it feels like at its worst.
However, I think the quality of my life has drastically improved in spite of this.
For one, I have so much more free time. Never having to worry about managing TikTok scrolling or constant notifications, I have more space in my life to fill my time with productivity and positivity.
Furthermore, my personal life feels much more private. I enjoy having mystery on my side. There is this lack of constant comparison to others. I don’t feel like I have to prove my life is interesting enough to garner 200+ likes. The validation of half-strangers and friends long gone has never added much to my life, and it feels so much more powerful to be seen and loved by those truly present in your life.
There’s also this element of surprise to everything. I can just throw myself into whatever the day or night offers without knowing what’s coming. Putting my faith into the universe, I often just let the muse take me where it goes.
One could argue that the biggest downside is losing all those potential connections. Getting a chance to react to posts or swipe up on someone’s story can truly lead to an interesting conversation — maybe even spark a new friendship.
And sure, that’s a valid critique.
However, I’ve found that the most rewarding relationships in my life have come from organic, in-person interactions. Gonzaga offers a plethora of communities to wander around through, each with its own unique, colorful personalities. There’s something truly wonderful about investing in those friendships around you rather than frivolously sending streaks to a million strangers, wondering if that’ll make something stick.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m more intentional now.
I value time and connection way more, and there is far less noise going on in my head. Instead of following trends, I find things via word of mouth, cultivate my own aesthetics, etc. It feels okay to take my time with things.
And don’t get me started on how much energy I’m saving on pointless political debate.
If there’s anything I hope readers can take away from this, I’m hoping this serves as an invitation:
Come smell the roses with me!
I know it seems like an intimidating leap, disconnecting from a world that postures itself as the center of the world. Trust me, I’ve been there.
But my god, the grass is greenest on the other side.
Even if it feels like there are a million things you might be missing out on, think about how much more will pass you by if you’re existing between the text on your screen.
And who knows … you just might find that something when you finally look up.