During the last decade, the use of social media has risen immensely, to the point where many young people have become dependent on it for news and communication as well as validation.
I have tried my hand at several of the available media, starting with a classic Dutch medium called Hyves. Hyves might have been a more personalized Facebook, where you could edit your page with colours and images to your own preference. It was also possible to play online games and connect with friends through chat functions. What I realised in hindsight when I used this and other platforms is that, as an ‘unpopular kid’ with no desire to become popular, there is not much to a medium like that.
I signed up to Facebook in my first year of secondary school because it was advertised as something different. I was an avid poster for a couple of years, updating people on my holiday trips, holiday celebrations and the occasional breakfast with included pictures. As the years went on though, I found that this way of posting parts of my life on a digital medium has never felt like it added actual value to my life. I was doing it because everyone else was, and it was easy to scroll through the vast amount of pages I had liked and simply be busy. When I realised that it wasn’t what I would like it to be, I looked at it critically and unliked almost all pages and even deactivated my account for a short while.
But then I went to university and joined a student sports association. And they were completely dependent on the use of Facebook. Signups for activities went through a link on Facebook, pictures of events were posted on their page and they even had polls that asked for members’ input on specific matters. They have since branched out to other media, such as Instagram and Twitter, both of which I have an account for that has not been active for more than a week.
The dependency on social media of businesses and associations such as this makes it incredibly hard to live without social media, even if it is wanted to go without it. Since I have reactivated my Facebook account I have found myself aimlessly scrolling through the posts I have already seen, sometimes watching videos that do not really interest me, and I hardly ever post anything on the platform. This has been happening ever since I installed the app on my phone again, and I will be honest and say that it has not made me happier, or more social. In fact, my boyfriend regularly catches me on my phone, while not actually doing anything significant. The only reason I have the account is to sign up for activities through my association, but apparently, it is so addictive even for people who don’t want to take an active part in social media to start participating. I would prefer if my association would send an email with a sign-up link because they send the monthly newsletter through email as well. Knowing today’s society, however, that will never happen anymore.