As a young person, Pope Francis is one of my favorite people in a list that includes others like Beyoncé and Audrey Hepburn. Not only do I value his theological perspectives on things, but I also value how in touch with the 21st century he is. Most recently he had a homily that spoke to millennials, like myself, in a language we understand: mobile.
In an excerpt from his speech, he said:
“Your happiness has no price. It cannot be bought. It is not an app that you can download on your phones, nor will the latest update bring you freedom and grandeur in love… Don’t believe those who would distract you from the real treasure, which you are, by telling you that life is beautiful only if you have many possessions.”
These possessions can come in the forms of likes, comments, or shares.
We have grown up in a digital age.
Marc Prensky has even gone so far as to coin us “digital natives”. As such, our lives have been consumed by all things social media. When I say consumed, I literally mean consumed. It seems as though everything in our lives has come to culminate in the social aspect of an event. What I mean by this is, in everything we do we are constantly searching for something to put online.
Everything has turned into a potential post.
We could be walking down the street and see an interesting landscape that we have to capture to put on Instagram. Our teacher could write something funny on the board that we just have to put it on Snapchat. There could be a funny interaction that we have to tweet about. These are just three examples of instances that seem like regular everyday occurrences that somehow end up online. Nothing can just happen for us because we want everyone to know about it.
I am equally as guilty of this need for affirmation, I’ll admit.
When I share this article with family and friends I don’t want it to just sit there, I want other people to see it as well. I want it to be liked. If my friend and I post the same picture from an event you best believe I am comparing who has more likes, and usually it’s not me. But does that mean I am less of a person? Does that mean I had less fun? Absolutely not. Yet, for some reason I still feel inferior because I got 87 likes compared to 168. It took me a little while to pinpoint this feeling because, like I said, myself and my generation have been raised as digital natives. This was just part of life for me. I had to come to the realization that it didn’t have to be. I not only can control how the world views me, I can also control how I view myself.
I know the pictures I post are good, or else I wouldn’t post them. This should be all the affirmation I need.
I see tons of posts on places like Instagram that are, frankly, not good. Yet, they still receive an immense amount of attention. Does that mean those people have more fulfillment? Do those 87 likes I received indicate that I only have 87% satisfaction with my life? Again, absolutely not. The idea of popularity has been transferred to social media in a very self-depreciating way and we need to stop thinking like this. Of course I will continue to post things because I like them and I want other people to like them too.
However, I will not post things because I NEED those likes or comments to tell me that my “life is beautiful”.
I experience things not for the sake of social media, but for the sake of my happiness. I travel because I love it. I cook because I find it fun. I hang out with friends because I enjoy their company. I do not do any of these things so I can show other people that my life is worth living. We need to get back to experiencing things in order to have an enriched life, not in order to take a picture of it.
A couple of quotes to remember…
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
“Nothing ever becomes real ’til it is experienced.” – John Keats
What are your thoughts on our generation’s use of the Internet? Comment below for our readers and be sure to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram!
Featured image: postplanner.com, teenvogue.com
Montana is currently a junior advertising major at St. John's University. Contrary to her name, she has lived almost everywhere except the state of Montana. She went to high school in Florida and decided to brave the cold of New York to be closer to the city. She loves being in New York, traveling, and experiencing new things!