15-Years Old and Not on Social Media

Posted on in On Our Radar by Ines Durant

More Time for What’s Real


Ithink I am the only student at my high school with no social media. Although there have been many awkward moments when I felt I was missing out, living without the constant pressure to be on social media has been a great experience for three main reasons: My decision saves me enormous time. I benefit from more original creativity and perspective. I believe I connect with people around me in a more genuine way.

I’m now a freshman at an East Coast boarding school. At the beginning of the year everyone was surprised that I didn’t have any social media. When other students asked for my Instagram or Snapchat no one could fathom that I didn’t have any. They thought it was unspeakably weird and wondered what motivation I had for not following the crowd.

The first and most important answer is simple—no social media is an enormous time saver. The average teenager spends between six and nine hours on social media every day. This seems absolutely ridiculous to me. Imagine everything that can be done instead. For starters you could spend real, in-person time with friends or family. Considering that a portion of those six to nine hours is spent multitasking, usually doing homework, instead of halfheartedly switching between tasks you could finish your work more quickly and effectively. Instead of sitting inside tapping on a phone you could be outdoors participating in a sport that you love, or making art or practicing music. There are so many activities and events to enjoy, not to mention knowledge to be gained in the real world, that it just seems senseless to waste so much time.

girls are looking to their phones

Because I finish homework earlier, I get more sleep and spend more time with friends. However, it wasn’t all very easy, especially over the summer and during the first few weeks of school. At that time many of my classmates had already come to know each other over social media. They seemed more connected after being in online friend groups. They had already learned each other’s names, which at first made me feel isolated and out of the loop. I just did not know as many people nor understand what was going on.

But after a while I noticed that these so-called connections did not last long. It became easy for me to find my true friends without social media. I just needed to break out of my shell and then I got to know people pretty quickly. Connections made purely over social are not authentic and don’t seem to last long. I see that many people who were “friends” over social media in the beginning of the year are no longer real friends. I find that the really close friendships at school are made by spending time in person instead of by communicating virtually. This allows people to really get to know each other, instead of just seeing a fake version.

To me it is pretty obvious that talking in person instead of over social media makes communication easier. Online communications can easily lead to misunderstandings that could have been avoided altogether or at least cleared up more quickly if handled face to face. Online communications can create messy and complicated situations since it is impossible to interpret tone or body language. Also, as I mentioned earlier, how people portray themselves on social media can be very fake or misleading, which can lead to a lot of frustration and confusion.

Social media’s barriers to communication can also make cyberbullying easier for the bully and more intense for the victim. Hiding behind their screens, bullies have no idea of the damage they do. Some social media users would never say such harmful things in person but find it is easier to be mean when they do not face the consequences. This has led to higher rates of depression and suicide within our social media-driven generation.

Before high school I went to a Waldorf school from sixth to eighth grade. The school prohibited social media, and although those strict rules and regulations usually backfired I can now better understand the philosophy behind them. They say that blocking out social media allows the student to develop their own sense of creativity and perspective. I think that because of my experience without social media my opinions and views of the world are more personally created and less influenced by other people and popular opinion. I believe creativity and originality are extremely useful and important. However, blocking out the world around you is illogical and unrealistic. To form an educated opinion you need to understand others. To function effectively in society you cannot sit alone disillusioned in your own world.

This is where I think there should be a balance. Social media can be used for good and it can be a tool for society. As we continue to evolve it is clear that the world will be connected through tech. I think we need to be careful about the authenticity of this interconnectedness and not let the world of social media envelop us. We need to find time to spend with people we love and to do what we love—outside of our phones. Social media has many pros and cons and although it is not the right way for me, that does not mean that there aren’t good ways to use it.

Ines Durant grew up in the Bay Area and is now a freshman at a traditional East Coast boarding school.

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