Our 173 followers

Our+173+followers

Mill Stream Staff

Where would we be without our 173 Instagram followers? Would we be able to emerge from our beds? Would we be able to look ourselves in the mirror? Would we be able to breathe?

From cyber-bullying to beauty standards to phone dependency, technology has turned into a gateway to numerous detrimental aspects of modern life. The three listed above are a small glimpse into a larger pattern of the negative effects of technology. Social media itself can be a monster in our society, damaging our mental health, limiting our attention spans, and minimizing our perception of one another’s humanity. We are trained to worry about our likes, followers, and comments far more than we reasonably should. We aimlessly scroll through social media when we feel unable to be productive. We find it far easier to insult someone over a screen than in person.

But where would we be without technology?

When half of our schooling needs a screen, where would we be without an iPad? When we get dozens of emails and texts daily, these serving as our primary avenues for communication, where would we be without our phones? When we have no other way to interact with other individuals, where would we be without technology?

As bad as it can be, that small rectangle in our pockets works both ways. While obviously there are numerous negative aspects, there are also countless advantages we receive living in a world of technology. Technology can easily be used to create harm, yes. For example, unhealthy beauty standards have existed far longer than social media, yet social media enables harmful ideas like this. At the same time however, social media can provide an opportunity to find others who can encourage body positivity or a number of other positive influences.

Technology requires responsibility. We choose when to use it. We choose which sites to use. We choose who to talk to. While there are exceptions, generally we have the ability to control technology’s effect on us. When a certain social media app troubles us, we have the power to delete that app. When certain people bother us, we have the power to block those people. When we have problems with our attention spans, we have the ability to control our own technology use.

So yes, technology can have horrible effects. And yes, technology is absolutely essential to modern life. But that does not excuse us from responsibility. It does not excuse us from the responsibility to protect ourselves, to treat others well, or to properly manage our time.

Too often, we seek to blame technology, as if technology has a mind of its own, as if Instagram intentionally plotted to give us fewer likes, or as if purposefully aimed to distract us from our homework.

That is not the case.

Technology is not a demon intent on ruining every second of our lives. Even social media is not built to tear down your world. Social media can act like a massive megaphone to the world. That megaphone can spout lies and insults, but we are not forced to listen. On the other hand, that megaphone can also amplify positive encouragement, compliments, and ideas. We choose what we expose ourselves to.

Our lives are not dependent on our 173 followers. We can breathe without the strangers we met on Snapchat. We can operate independent of our favorite TikTok creators. We have power over ourselves, and we alone can exercise that power. We alone hold the responsibility for our own technology use, and we alone control technology’s effect on our lives.