Social media: guilty of theft

The addictiveness of social media is stealing our lives away from us

Claire Schoenemann

More stories from Claire Schoenemann


Photo by submitted

As a member of this generation, we will spend only a third of our lives actually living.

If you were born between 1997 and 2012, you are predicted to spend a third of your life on a screen of some sort. This is equal to the amount of time we are supposed to spend sleeping in a day

With that said, only about a third of your life is actually ‘leftover,’ in a sense. As a member of this generation, we will spend only a third of our lives actually living

This is a topic that was recently brought to my attention in a course that I am taking at UW-Eau Claire, which is working on addressing the effectiveness of media campaigns and public relations. 

In reality, media is served on a platter to its target audience, like a bite of candy that you can never get enough of. Particularly susceptible to this trap are children, whose attention spans are continually lowering

In an article recently addressed by Forbes magazine, TikTok a popular media platform embraced by our generation is engineered to keep consumers coming back for more. 

Anyone who has ever taken psychology knows that the concept of random reinforcement, sometimes used in games, media or even parenting, is a strategy that works to train everyone to keep coming back for more.

Essentially, the knowledge that if we scroll for long enough through any media platform keeps us engaged, waiting for that one great post that will bring us the all-powerful dopamine release from the brain. 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brains linked to the pleasures and control center. It contributes to our thinking, planning and helps us remain interested in topics and media. 

While this might be a great strategy for companies to keep people of all ages engaged, it’s also singlehandedly stealing away the childhood experience and freetime from people all over the world. 

People are losing their in-person communication skills, spending precious hours of our finite lives engulfed in creators’ lives and falling into the trap of addictiveness. 

Some may say that the digital age is a commodity that we should be thankful for. It has enhanced education platforms, allowed people to stay in contact with friends and family and created a whole new digital market. 

While it does have its upsides, far too many people are wasting away the better parts of their life engulfed in the media of others. In my experience, this can lead to loss of sleep, lack of productivity, mental health issues and ultimately just a waste of time. 

The next time you find yourself reaching for your phone upon the feeling of a buzz, consider the fact that this immediate reaction is precisely what marketers and creators want from you. 

It’s time for our generation to remember that we are here to live, and not to spend our lives admiring what others are doing. Things on social media often marketed as ‘perfect’ just appear that way. 

We all need to put our phones down, even for an hour a day and focus on strictly living. 

Consider turning your notifications off for that one app you constantly find yourself checking, and remember that you’re here to live, not consume. 

Schoenemann can be reached at [email protected].