Existential Hour: A Reflection of Social C̶o̶n̶n̶e̶c̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ Media

Words by: Vivian Tang
Art by: Madison Marshall

Social media. We’re akin to it because it’s entrenched in a way that feels true to us, a part of us. But I’m concerned about how it affects us.

We’re not just the generation that grew up with it, we’re the generation who defended it because it’s a world that feels so intensely ours. When current affair news condemned social media, we sought to redeem it. We scrambled to find ‘friends,’ spread love with likes and thoughts with comments. We ‘connected’ with people. It’s ‘just like the real thing!’ but all within our fingertips. Concern was unnecessary because we had done it. Hadn’t we? We proved it was a positive force of nature, a wholehearted chapter on human evolution. It felt right. In a world in which we belonged and knew intimately, why would we question it?

“I think many of us are getting the anxieties of connection rather than the nourishment of it.” — Ezra Klein

Social media does not socially connect us. It does not satiate our need for belonging. We’re social beings, but we need to be socially connected in a way that feeds us.

This is our reality; we operate within a system that tells us to look outward because there is no comfort in looking within. If we’re not ‘connected,’ refreshed nor updated, we’re deficient in some way. We’re one step behind in a world that’s two steps forward. So, we don’t stop to listen; we scream to be heard. Even if you’re overwhelmed, even if you remove your- self from these social networks, you still live in a world which they shape and create. It’s a brief moment of freedom that mutates into a fear of missing out. So, you choose the former. It’s the lesser of two evils. Connect or be forgotten.

We believed in a world that believed in us. Were we naïve? I don’t think so. But I do believe, right now, we’re a generation that’s lost. Tremendous suffering has resulted from war over territory and ideology, but for us, our generation, we’re in the war of the mind. We believe in a misconstrued interpretation of the world. It’s a world without context. It’s a binary world that’s unwilling to accept those that fall in between. You’re accomplished or a failure. Popular or unpopular. It’s a polarised system where we’re forced to pick and choose but never sit and ponder, talk and BE HEARD.

But then again, it’s not really our world. It’s a system that promotes surface level understanding. I’m asking myself; I’m asking you — how can we truly connect if we fail to under- stand one another?

The internet took away my process of identity. Unable to understand myself, I’m even more confused about those around me. How do people know me, how can they truly connect with me, when I can’t even connect with myself? I can’t hear my own voice. I’m a 20-year-old afraid to validate my own opinions of the world because they no longer feel like my own. The world feels so crowded and I feel guilty for taking up any more space.

It’s the consequence of a socially disconnected world. We withdraw from meaningful insight and authentic social connections. We distract rather than feel because the ordinary drudge of the day has the power to submerge us entirely in shame and guilt. So, we look for the fleeting moments in life to get us through it all. But I ask, why are we here if not for genuine connection? When we are deeply connected to other people, we’re willing to listen. We lean into their way of looking at the world. We choose to stand together on common ground because it fulfils us in a way that virtual connection cannot.

It’s not just about putting the phone down. It’s about reclaiming the way that we were born to live, through meaningful social connection.

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