This week, I took the initiative to do my own college 2021 version of logging off like Lush. I deleted Snapchat, an app we have all had at our disposal since 2011. In the last couple of days, I have experienced the world more and spent significantly less time on my phone.
Lush, a cosmetic retail company, announced they are "logging off until social media is safe for all." This included a discontinuation of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok on Nov. 26, 2021. The company has a list of reasons in their social media policy for why they find social media unsafe including loss of control in communication and media malpractice.
I am concerned that older, more stable and recent iterations of social media have led to increasing mental health issues among other complications, including time management. Having said that, I implemented my log off.
"You are crazy!" and "What is wrong with you?" were among the brash and somewhat sarcastic responses I got minutes after I sent my fellow Snapchatters on my friends list my phone number.
The stark reality is if people truly want to connect with me, it was not going to happen by way of the hundreds of Snapchats I was sending weekly of either half of my face, my forehead or some pose where I was just emphasizing my "effort of staying in touch" with someone. Additionally, those Snapchats were consuming many minutes and provided an opportunity for procrastination when I could be doing other productive activities.
Seeing Lush, a large company of more than 900 stores worldwide, take this initiative hopefully incentivizes others that need convincing to join the effort.
My favorite reason for Lush dropping social media, among the many it provided, is its wish for platforms to be less manipulative, dragging us into the self-centered and all-about-me community. Social media is addicting. As consumers of large companies like Meta and Snap Inc., we buy into exactly what technology developers expect for us: to grasp onto addiction, overuse it and buy in that social media is exceptional.
People use apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok and do not realize the harmful effects they have on human behaviors and perceptions. According to a study done at the Pew Research Center, an astounding 42% of U.S. teens feel anxious when they do not have their cell phone.
It appears kids are experiencing fear of missing out, or FOMO. As Gen Z, millennials and other age groups in Bloomington strap to their phones, we need to encourage each other to see the world beyond the screen.
LinkedIn's mission is to "connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful." The IU Kelley School of Business might encourage connections on LinkedIn, but the real connection lies within our ability to network in real life.
Consider why you might be on Instagram, Facebook or any other social media platform. Is it because you genuinely had an amazing time and want the world to know, or do you use it as a place to set aside memories you hope to hold onto for life? Next, consider what gains you get from sharing, posting or sending files on these apps. The benefits, if any, are likely few and only because you admire the validation received from these interactions.
Instagram and Facebook have both begun testing different practices of the "like" feature. While these features give the user more control of their posts, the theory is flawed. Vox reporter Rebecca Jennings said, "no matter how much Instagram would like to be viewed as a place users feel good about visiting, its entire existence is predicated on reminding people that other people are having more fun than they are."
The idea of hiding the amount of likes on a post or anticipation of why someone may have left us on read on Snapchat can leave us feeling emotionally exhausted. People are caught up with showing off their best self.
I would have a different perspective if I was closer to the people that posted this content. Some Instagram accounts, unfortunately mine included, have more than 1,000 followers. I will be the first to admit that I am not close to many of those people.
Alternatives to social media are endless. If you know me, you will often find me on the west side of Herman B Wells Library in the learning commons. Throughout the library and all IU buildings, there are activity boards asking for people to get involved. Consider spending the time making an effort cultivating new friendships or making a real difference in the lives of others.
The next world leaders will not come about as a result of a social media post or online presence. Future leaders will emerge as a result of participation in worthwhile causes through the dedication of time being enriched by the diversity of ideas within and outside our community.
John Hultquist (he/him) is a sophomore studying community health with a double minor in urban planning and community development and nutrition.