By Charlie McKenna, Staff Writer

The millennial generation is one that defies description.  We are ingenious and ambitious, and we face a tough economy with our best foot forward.  We are tech savvy (most of us), energetic, and passionate about social justice. However (now that I’ve gotten the disclaimer out of the way), there are some things our generation as a whole can improve.  

One of the most troubling is our untapped potential through our addiction to social media. 

The problem of social media

Through our love of social media (because, stereotypes aside, we all love our Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, etc), we as millennials are luring ourselves into lives of complacency and mediocrity.   Ask yourself how many times per day you check your social media.  The average answer is 17 times. This isn't any revelation to most of us.  Addiction to social media isn’t news.  

If you’re at all like me, you read the articles telling you you’re spending too much time on social media, resolve to be more moderate, and then spend 5 hours on social media the next day from withdrawal.  Sure, studies show that people are happier without their Twitter fix, and people like Randi Zuckerberg advocate unplugging, but it usually doesn’t affect us in any meaningful way.  We read, agree, and go back to living our lives the exact same way.

What to do?

We need to take a serious step back.  This issue has been spoken of quite a lot.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen articles on the benefits of unplugging from Facebook.  But at the end of the day, it took actually unplugging to make me realize the benefits.  What is the last thing you did that you really loved?  The last experience in which you were simply living and enjoying it?  

Living every day in anticipation of that moment seems kind of improbable.  Nobody has time for that.  Then why do we have time to spend 40 minutes to an hour on social media?  We can instead devote that time to improving our lives so we can experience great moments every day, or facilitate such opportunities for others.   We can take time out of our day to become more interesting and virtuous, and less mediocre.

How to unplug

This all sounds really nice.  But 99% of the time, I’ll just read stuff like this and then check Twitter. So here are a couple ways to achieve a good life balance.

First, leave your phone at home.  If you don’t need to take your phone to the party/meeting/whatever, then don’t take it.  You won’t be able to use it as a crutch, or take away from your time with friends.  This strategy is also useful because it will make you less dependent on your phone in general.  If you can't use your phone as your default activity when you're bored, you'll get out of the habit.

The next strategy seems really obvious, but it actually helps quite a lot!  Make a schedule for yourself so you aren’t spending exorbitant amounts of time on social media.  It is so easy to waste an hour on Facebook, without even thinking about it.  So instead of letting yourself roam free on social media for unspecified amounts of time, sit down and enjoy it for 15 minutes, then get up and enjoy something else.  

Finally, let your friends know if you’re committing to cutting down on social media.  Have them hold you accountable when you first start out, so that you can get into the habit of moderation.  

Escaping from mediocrity is easy-- if you approach it with the right attitude strategies, you’ll be pursuing a more interesting life in no time.  Then you might have something really great to Snapchat about.

AuthorCharlie McKenna