Stay connected

Originally appeared online in the teen column: UpFront - August 9, 2016

I have so many reasons to be on my phone. Don’t you? Emails and texts to answer, photos to like on Instagram, news stories and updates and friends to follow. I’m on my phone so much that sometimes I don’t even realize how often I reach for it instinctively—not just when I need to, but just … because.

Then one of my high school-aged friends made a comment that brought me up short. She said she often went on Instagram when she was bored, but lately, she’d been noticing that she felt down and self-critical after scrolling through her feed. Still, she kept doing it, because she felt like she needed to “stay connected.”

Stay connected. Those words got me thinking. When we log on to social media, what are we connecting to? Our friends, sure. Maybe the world outside our own neighborhood or community. But as I thought about it further, I realized that jumping on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat also connects me to some things that aren’t the greatest. Being on social media connects me to negativity, sets me up to compare myself to others, and often (unwittingly) catches me in a current of news stories that make me feel helpless, overwhelmed, or afraid.

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