We are constantly on the verge of completely losing ourselves.
We exist in a capitalist, industrial, digital-age world. Having everything you want at your fingertips is proving to have drastic consequences. As the LODF song tells us, “convenience will kill us all.”
Teenagers and people in their early 20s are forming most of their social connections on TikTok or Instagram, fostering communities that don’t go beyond their phones. They resort to this due to social anxiety, little access to physical communities, or a host of other pressures that come with making friends in-person. This problem spiked coming out of the 2020 lockdown, with many struggling to part with the relief that online communities provided.
I went my entire freshman year eating lunch hidden in the bathroom, avoiding interaction with my peers. I’m not the only one. A 2021 study from Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University reports that almost 60% of women aged 17-29 who were surveyed on prolonged use of social media felt that face-to-face communication was difficult.
Our modern world tells us we need to be productive. Non-stop. School, work, extra-curriculars, constantly doing things for the sake of advancement to the next level. My high school experience is a perfect example. I spent my entire sophomore year applying for PSEO, so I could finish college faster, get a job faster, and put my life on fast-track
I am living my life exactly as I’m told to. And I’m miserable. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. A 2022 study from GALLUP News reveals that students K-12 reported the highest percentage of burnout compared to college students or adults.
Between living on our phones and living for the future, when are we living in the present? When we are burnt out from this way of existence, do we address it? Do we even notice it? We keep going, moving along and pushing through exhaustion until we break. And then we do it again.
Where do we go from here? Well, change comes in bits and pieces. I suggest repeating two steps, over and over, until it’s a habit. First, acknowledge. When you find yourself feeling exhausted or obsessively staring at a screen for hours, recognize that. Then, make a conscious decision to stop. Once you’re aware that your current actions are causing negative impacts, you need to take a break. Whatever you do next is up to you- just choose you.
This story was produced at ThreeSixty’s Op-Ed Workshop in fall 2023. Keira worked with Loram technical writer Ryan Malloy and retired St. Thomas editor Patty Petersen to finish her story. Click here to read more stories from the workshop.