Opinion: Social Media makes us anxious, angry and polarized

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"Social Media Cloud by Techndu" by Mark Kens is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Seth Root/The Broadside

As of 2019, 90 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds use at least one social media site, according to Pew Research. 79 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds use Facebook. 67 percent of young adults use Instagram. Today, I worry that young people are too focused on social media, causing people to be more anxious, angrier, and more polarized than ever. 

Of course, using social media can be very useful. It is an excellent mechanism for social networking. I know because Facebook and other platforms have opened doors for me that I know would never have happened if I wasn’t on these platforms. 

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But the more I am on these platforms, the more I realize something. I realized, the more time people spend on these sites, the more angry, anxious, and isolated people were. I read a tweet thread from someone who is frequently on Twitter. In the tweet thread, he would fluctuate between how angry he was about the election process and how worried he was that someone would steal the election. That’s not healthy. Emotions should never control us. 

That same day, I read another tweet from someone who advocated for not talking to any family members who voted for any Republican. Regardless of how you might feel about the Republican Party, don’t you see how warped that is? I have family members that are both Republican and Democrat. All of them are good people. Why choose politics over the people that are closest to you? 

I think that these two stories perfectly illustrate just how social media has polarized us and made us be something we are not. 

So what should be done about it? How do we become the people that we are supposed to be? 

1) Get off the phone

I think the first step to do is not spend so much time on your phone. Remember, the stuff that is going on in that phone of yours is not as important as you think it is. My advice, go outside and take a walk. Read a book. Do your homework. Do anything that does not require a phone. The results from not spending so much time on your phone will make you less angry and anxious. 

2) Talk to people

Talking to people can be daunting. But talking to people forces you to realize that there are many different perspectives about politics and life. This can help you reevaluate your positions about things that will make you stronger and make you liberal in your thinking. 

3) Be part of your community 

It is incredible how unconnected we are, even though the technology we possess seems to connect us now more than ever. Weird, I know. But it’s true. 

We have no idea what goes on around us because we are frequently on the phone. To change that, I suggest people start being part of their community. Go volunteer at a local homeless shelter, start a book club in your community, or start a basketball league with some of your closest friends. Not only will this be an excellent opportunity to talk to different people with different perspectives, but this will make you see just what is going on around you. 

I know there are probably more things that I could add to this list. But I think these three things can do the most good to break us out of this polarization problem. I hope students, faculty, and staff at Central Oregon Community College can benefit from this and start slowly moving away from social media. 

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