If social media fell off the face of the Earth

Ella Schuellerman, Arts & Life Editor

This week in E’s Editorial, I write about the obsession society has social media and how it’s impacted my own happiness. (Ella Schuellerman)

So much of our everyday lives rely on our phones. They wake us up in the morning. They give us the news. They capture experiences. They guide us. They track us. They can calculate, measure and record. Most importantly, they keep us connected through our favorite social media platforms. If social media fell off the face of the earth, how would our lives change?

Apps keep us even more intertwined with our friends, family and even strangers we will never physically meet. Because we don’t need to. We can just have relationships on our apps instead, right? There is no need to have in-person interactions or social skills if we can just communicate through a screen. 

According to The Happiness Research Institute of Copenhagen, “Social media is a non-stop great news channel. A constant flow of edited lives which distorts our perception of reality.” During the institute’s 2015 social experiment on 1,095 Facebook users’ well-being, researchers discovered five out of 10 users envy the experiences of others, one out of three envy the happiness of others and four out of 10 envy the apparent success shared by other users. Even if any of it may not be true.

Instead of focusing on what we need as individuals to live a healthy, happy life, we are fixated on what other people have and how we can virtually out-rank them. 

Have we started to grow closer relationships with our phones than our friends sitting next to us? (Canva )

If social media fell off the face of the earth, do you think we would stop comparing our own happiness and social status to the lives of others? Do you think we would foster more authentic, lifelong relationships with our friends and family? Can I go a whole dinner without checking my phone? Can I stop checking my phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night? Do you think we would be able to be more present in the moment rather than let our #phoneseatfirst?

If you answered yes to any of or all of those questions, then it is probably time to sit back and think about how your loving relationship with your phone has reached a point of pent-up obsession. 

I realized I needed space from my phone when I was at a dinner party with friends a few years ago. I was with about six other people at a funky restaurant with the most beautiful setting and tastiest food. Instead of embracing the environment and enjoying the evening, we were all on our phones. 

Ever since, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people are sucked into their phones, checking Twitter and texting other people when they are literally sitting across from me, knocking knees. 

Another moment I realized, “Yep, phone obsessions really suck,” was when a family member dropped their phone in the toilet while checking social media. Not to worry though, your phone is actually 10 times more dirty than a toilet seat due to the amount of finger traffic it gets, according to a University of Arizona study. Let’s face it, many of us bring our phone to the bathroom with us already — maybe you are reading this morning’s news on some porcelain yourself right this moment. If our phones are already dirty to begin with, it’s probably best to leave them out of the bathroom and keep some distance.

I acknowledge social media keeps us connected to “The Good” like young activism, social change, babies and puppies playing together, trendy dances, quirky food recipes or even life-changing campaigns like the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But I think we need to take a long, hard look at how we can create sustainable happiness for ourselves. 

I do not want to let a measly, metal-scrapped phone or strategically executed Instagram post hold the keys to my day-to-day happiness. While our phones do have the power to educate, connect and keep us informed, it’s important to maintain a balance and think about where our happiness would stand if social media were no more.

How do you set boundaries with social media and your phone? How do you step away and prioritize being present and not sucked into social media?


For questions, contact Ella Schuellerman [email protected]