Living in the Moment as a Millennial
“You young people and your phones. What happened to playing outside?”
I know we’ve all had some 40+ year old uncle or aunty yell something to this effect at us as we sit, minding our business scrolling through Instagram, or favouriting tweets on twitter. You probably rolled your eyes and brushed the comment off – I certainly have. But as much as I hate to admit it, they may have a point.
I carried out a VERY unscientific “study” of my own. I asked a group of 6 people aged 18-23 to screenshot their screen time stats for the day so far and send them to me. I then recorded the time spent on social media only – the results? 16 hours and 37 mins all together. SIXTEEN! And this is at 3pm on a Monday, a day that they were all at University or at work. Granted, this is a very small sample, nor it is an average and there could be many extraneous variables at play here, but you get my point.
For those that want something with a little more… credibility, take a look at this article published in 2017. I have summarised the findings here for the lazy people: every age group is now spending more time on social media each year (with teens reaching up to 9 hours a day) The article then goes onto state the following: ‘Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media every day, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.’ How do you feel knowing that you will likely spend half a decade of your life passively lookingat other people’s lives virtually? In fact, it is likely more than 5 years now as social media usage has increased and let’s be honest, it will only continue to do so? I for one feel very disconcerted by this fact.
Personally, I find myself talking about how much I value real experiences like travelling and concerts and things of that nature. It’s currently October as I write this piece and I am still avidly raving about atrip to Amsterdam I took in June. But as I sit and look through my snapchat memories, I am faced with a barrage of videos and videos of my friends and I participating in the Hot Girl Summer festivities. Seems harmless right? A good thing even. I thought so too until I thought back to a conversation between myself and one of them, where we laughed about probably not being able to remember all the things we did over the summer if it wasn’t for the evidence. Isn’t that weird? Our parents can tell us, in avid detail, about some party they went to that one time, in the autumn of 1983 but we’d struggle to remember what we did of note last month if questioned about it.
My theory for this is that we are too busy trying to capture the moment for later. Whether to look at ourselves for fun or to prove to others that we are indeed having a good time? – that’s for you to honestly ask yourself later. A man on twitter spoke about this saying something to the effect of that when he was younger, without social media and technology, he knew the only way to remember what he was experiencing was to be fully present at the time that it was happening. 30 years later he can still remember these things. However, when it comes to more recent events, he had grown complacent,knowing he’d be able to pull his phone out and look back when he felt like it. This is the difference between living in the moment and not.
Of course, we can agree that it’s nice to have footage to look back at, nobody is disputing that. But to what end? Social media is an amazing tool; it has opened doors for so many, made money for others, given inspiration to millions. However, there are also many articles outlining the negative effects such as lowering sleep quality, decreasing attention span and its notorious link to poor mental health. Here is one article, but a simple search will show you dozens more.
My two cents in order to live a better quality of life is to try and truly live in the moment by controlling your social media usage. It’s not necessary to stop it altogether. Monitor your screen time, turn your phone off when you’re out having a good time if it’s safe to do so, turn your notifications off – the listgoes on. Just make sure you’re living your best life in real life, not just for the gram.