People are so preoccupied with what goes on online that they fail to see everything that goes on outside the virtual world.

These days, it’s hard to find someone talking about the camping trip they went on with their dad, and more common to hear about the latest episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” or the filter so-and-so put on her last selfie.

I find it positively, absolutely depressing that out here in the real world we have a company dedicated to keeping our social media alive after we die. Honestly, I can’t believe that people would choose to invest in that instead of in a charity or groceries or something that would at least be worth it in the end. Are we really so absorbed with tweeting even after our heart stops beating that we can’t go do something positive with our lives?

At least 70 percent of the tweets crowding my timeline are completely senseless; they always seem to include five completely unrelated emojis followed by the acronym “LOL.” Not only is the disease of pointless self-obsession infecting Twitter and all other forms of social media, it is seeping into the real lives we experience in the few moments we detach from our phones. We live through heavily edited photos and obsess over who blocked whom on Instagram last weekend.

Young girls all over the world have seen pictures or music videos and say, “I wish I was as pretty as she is.” They are 4, 5 and 6 years old and are already wishing they could be someone else. Those girls should be strutting around in pink tutus thinking they are more beautiful than Beyoncé on her best day. I find it pitiful that we are stuck in a world where a girl’s confidence is determined by how many flame emojis and likes her last selfie got.

Self-confidence, especially for girls and young women like Essena O’Neill — the Australian model who quit social media — has become something that depends excessively on the digital world: on how people see us through 140 characters or a picture that took 45 minutes to create and edit.

This raises the question: Are we controlling social media or is the social media controlling us?


Sally Calengor is a ninth-grader at Benilde-St. Margaret’s school in St. Louis Park.