Not the average American teen

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter are some things that are not in my life. I’m an exception to the rule.

It’s odd for a teen in 21st century America to not have these popular social media apps. In my eyes, social media is a waste of time. 

A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that 54% of teenagers believe they spend too much time on their phone, and 41% said they spend too much time on social media.

I believe that teens should live their lives outside of social media and their phones. We should be outdoors experiencing life, traveling, doing fun things and making memories.

Two years ago I made the decision to not have social media. Before that, I did have it and it meant way more to me than it should have. I constantly checked the likes and comments on my posts, my feed and others’ posts. 

When I still used social media, I noticed I would put unnecessary pressure on myself and stress built up as a result. I worried if I was posting the right thing and what people would think. It consumed my everyday life, and I didn’t realize it until I got rid of it completely.

A study by the University of California, Merced concluded that approximately 43% of Americans who demonstrated an attachment to online social media communication platforms also reported higher stress levels.

Along with lower stress levels, not having social media is easier for me because I’m not concerned about having to take photos to post my everyday life. When I had social media I would try and make my life seem “perfect.” I didn’t want people to see the unhappy side of myself so I faked it. 

Faking things on social media led me to faking them in real life. I always wanted people to see me as a successful and happy person, but I wasn’t. Portraying that fake reality made me even more upset in the background. 

I will admit, I do sometimes think about reintroducing myself to social media outlets like Instagram and Snapchat because it’s sometimes difficult for me to stay updated with my friends and most of my distant family that live far away from me. 

Social distancing during the pandemic has also made me question my social media boycott. During the beginning months of COVID-19 I had a hard time staying updated with school policy changes and world events. 

I may seem like a very informed person to some, but in reality I don’t know what’s going on in the world or even in my own community. I could make an effort to search things up online, but if I did I know I would be more stressed. 

At my age I don’t think I need to worry too much about the news and politics. Yes I still have my views and opinions on these matters, but as a 15-year-old I am not eligible to vote so I don’t see the necessity of learning all about the candidates and what they do. 

Aside from social media, we also do not have a television in our household. 

Although I do have distant family with televisions, I never really pay attention to the broadcast news. When I recently visited my grandparents I decided to watch cable news. It was mainly political ads and debates due to the upcoming presidential election, and instead of feeling informed I just felt stressed out. It made me further appreciate the fact that I did not grow up with a television.

But at the same time, I believe that the reason I get so stressed out now by the news is because I didn’t grow up with a TV. Sometimes I think that if I would’ve grown up watching the news maybe it wouldn’t affect me as much as it does now.

Sometimes people rely too much on social media for information. Many things online are not true and are modified to be the most relatable for a mass audience. 

A 2020 Chester County Hospital study claims that nearly one out of four people say they have shared a fake political news story, and some say they have done so on purpose.

People often ask me “What do you do without a TV? Do you ever get bored? What’s it like without a TV?” My answers to these questions are simple. I tend to either read, run or take photos. It may seem boring, but I don’t have the stresses that come along with the TV and the news.

Unplugging permanently from television and social media is not as terrible as some may think. I enjoy knowing that I do not have the daily stress that comes along with it. I plan to stick with my decision to not have social media and a television because I know if I go back, I will not want to give them up.

I recommend that people at least try to take a break from their social media. Making the decision to eliminate these things from my daily life really changed me. If you do the same you may view it differently as well.