Social media shouldn’t validate your experiences

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If we don’t post our daily experiences on Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, they didn’t really happen.
 
That may seem farfetched—of course, reality exists independent of social media. However, in an era where we post every outfit, event, and accomplishment online, this truth is becoming less clear.
 
The creation of social media platforms like Facebook initially invited only certain things to be posted online—engagements, new jobs, university acceptances. They marked important milestones and shared news with friends and family in a single post.
 
But in 2018, it seems the majority of daily life goes documented.
 
As more social media platforms have given users the option to share everything from thoughts to photos and videos, their use has increased. 
 
In fact, it’s reached a point where the urge to document moments online is just that—an impulsive urge. It’s as if an experience must be captured and publicized to the world in order to validate that it happened.  
 
I’m the first to admit I’ll grab my phone to take a picture of a restaurant or a reunion with a friend, even if it adds nothing of value to the experience itself.
 
However, although social media doesn’t always add value, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s innocuous. 
 
Feeling like we need a digital witness in our own lives extends past the 10 seconds lost on our phones. It takes away from our ability to experience a moment. Whether it’s through others watching our stories, liking our posts, or commenting on our photos, it pulls us away from those we’re with to those viewing and validating us from behind a screen.
 
In an age where comparison runs rampant, social media requires you to prove you’re worth as much as anyone else. 
 
Ultimately, posting our experiences can degrade them. 
 
Using social media as a tool to solidify events and craft personas of how we’d like to come across—stylish, carefree, or popular—isn’t harmless, and we shouldn’t behave as if it is.
 
Your experiences are just as real if you don’t post them for others to see. A dinner is as delicious, an accomplishment as exciting, and a sunset as beautiful when it’s not posted to social media.
 
You don’t need to delete Instagram, but it’s worth considering why you enjoy posting on it, and if there’s something about the validation it gives that makes your posts a compulsion rather than a choice.
 
We enjoyed our life experiences before social media and we can still enjoy them without it. If we can take our eyes off the screen for a moment, our surroundings can become much clearer.
 
Hannah is one of The Journal’s Features Editors. She’s a third-year student in the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics program.

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