Life before social media is an era falling fast into a long forgotten realm
I was born in 1991 and have had the privilege of playing on the streets and being able to stream (or download, if need be) my favorite shows and movies. I know who Audrey Hepburn was, I adore Molly Ringwald and I relate to Anna Kendrick’s tweets on an unnatural level. A true-blooded millennial, I can distinguish my life before and after social media.
If you can’t or don’t remember (because things were harder to document then), let me paint you a nostalgic little picture of what life was like before social media.
There were more activities because you needed ways to kill time. There was more conversation because there was nothing else to do at the table. There was less care about whether or not you looked like an idiot because no one could take a video and share it to the world. Being solitary was simple; there was not as much pressure to stay relevant and share every aspect of our lives. No one questioned you with disbelief when you told them stories because “pics or it didn’t happen” didn’t exist yet.
I actually had no interest in creating a Facebook account; I, in all honesty, was a little late to the game. But one day my highschool batchmate asked me if I was going to her debut and I said she hadn’t invited me. She rolled her eyes and told me I was, in fact, invited and that I should attach myself to social media to stay updated.
And hey, no one likes being left out of a good party, right?
Of course, the story is different for the generations that came before mine. I’ve had countless conversations with people that remember Martial Law and having to depend on coins and the availability of a working pay phone to call home. I was on the listening end as others shared stories of losing touch with friends that moved away or changed schools.
It’s different now, obviously. How easy is it to keep tabs on a person you shared a classroom with for just one semester in college? How easy is it to stay up-to-date with the life of a cousin you met once? You know—almost immediately—when someone gets engaged, celebrates an anniversary or cooks a damn meal. It’s insane when you think about it, but that’s the reality of today.
The question is: Could we still survive without social media?
The quick answer is yes. The honest answer is yes. The fucking answer is yes. But do we want to is not so easily answered.
There are alternatives to social media that we can adopt. Text the people you actually want to keep tabs on, for example. Maybe even video call them instead of checking their stories if you miss their face. Get your news from actual sources; all you have to do is type the publication on Google anyway. Download games to pass the time in traffic. Download books to read or music to listen to or shows to catch up on.
I’m going to say it: We do not need social media like I don’t technically need a cigarette after every meal. The catch is that not needing it doesn’t mean we’re going to give it up any time soon—not unless we want to. You can’t force someone to give up their vices no matter how bad it is for them and that’s what social media is.
You think smokers need reminding of the repercussions of inhaling nicotine? We know it; we know smoking can give you cancer like you know social media can seriously damage your mental health. You’ve heard the statistics and understand how trying to remain perfect and constantly seeing perfection is not doing you any good.
All in all, social media is the thing that we don’t need yet can’t get enough of. It’s what we reach out for in times of boredom, self-deprecation and “I deserve a 5-minute break” moments. So, when you think about it, I guess we’re all just a little mad (and maybe even a little masochistic) here.
Art Alexandra Lara